Based in the CIC hut for the last three days with Euan and the Falkirk High Tops Team (see Euan’s report below). There’s been considerable fresh snow and a lot of wind movement of snow since the last thaw freeze cycle; this has resulted in large build ups of wind slab. The wind slab is sitting on top of a hard old snow in a lot of areas on Ben Nevis. Additionally, there are weak layers of softer slab, which were deposited during periods of lighter winds, within the wind slab.
Careful route choice is currently required with crag aprons in sheltered locations a particular concern, as well as fresh building cornices and loading of slopes above routes and on exit slopes.
The winds over the last three days have mostly been from the East and South-East, but there is cross-loading on a lot of aspects. If you are on Ben Nevis over the next few days go carefully, particularly in poor visibility, as you may find unstable wind slab on slopes you don’t expect or potentially building above you.
It’s worth noting that on Gutlass and Waterfall Gully we chose to only climb the lower pitches and then abseil the route to avoid potential avalanche risk higher up or in descent and after finishing Curtain Rail the teams chose to abseil rather than come down the bottom of Number Five Gully.