23rd to 25/03/12 Ben Nevis

Up at the CIC hut for the last few days with John, Linda, Gayle, Archie and Simon from the Falkirk High Tops Team. On Friday we arrived around lunchtime at the hut and went up in to Observatory Gully and had a look at Tower Scoop. We decided against it this late in the day as there was a fair a bit of debris coming down the gully and we chose to find a safe patch of snow and look at some winter climbing skills. Tower Scoop was climbed early in the day by a couple of parties on Saturday, but now has a distinct broken section on the first pitch.
Gayle and Archie on Observatory Ridge

On Saturday we climbed Observatory Ridge as a summer route on dry rock with the odd snow patch until the last 70m where we moved in to Zero Gully. The top section of Zero had a couple of icey steps the highest one being quite thin. John, Simon and Linda descended Number 4 Gully and myself, Gayle and Archie descended snow in to the head of Coire Leis. Tower Gully, NE Buttress, Tower Ridge, Ledge Route and Castle Ridge were all climbed on Saturday with axe/crampons needed for approach or higher up. Number 3 Gully was descended on skis on Saturday.

Gayle in the top section of Zero Gully


Gayle and Archie descending in to Coire Leis

On Sunday we climbed Gardyloo Gully, which currently has a great exit through a tunnel under and behind the chockstone. However, care and good route choice is required to access the route as the warm conditions are impacting any remaining ice routes badly and large lumps of ice were falling from Smith’s and the right hand end of Indicator Wall as early as 7:30 in the morning.

Linda emerging from the tunnel in Gardyloo Gully

The major easy gully lines are all still complete, but remaining ice routes have been effected badly by the last couple of warm days and falling ice will be a consideration for a while if temperatures don’t turn cold again. The rock is dry in large areas and rock routes were being climbed on both Saturday and Sunday.

Gayle topping out from Gardyloo Gully


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