Jimmy Marshall and Robin Smith have come to mind quite a lot this winter. Jimmy said the best ice for climbing with one ice axe, cutting steps and hand holds as you go, is firm snow. Hard ice is too much work for reasonable progress. With the constant soft conditions this winter I've been using my hands much more than I might normally when the snow and ice is strong enough to hold a pick. This year I've been holding, pushing, bridging and hoping a whole lot more than normal. Today though, I got my crampons into some well frozen, icy snow and it was a joy!
Bryn and I climbed Castle Ridge, an excellent climb and a popular choice today. The freezing level came down during the day but the snow on the crux mixed section was not very good. Most teams on the route missed out this section which is around to the right and not very obvious. Since there is a lot of snow this year it is more simple to go straight up big snowy ledges. However, the crux is spectacular and well worth finding. The snow on the descent, in the wind and quite high up, was well frozen, hard and icy. Hopefully all the snow on the big faces and gullies will freeze hard too. Still looking like quite a cold and dry weekend.