It was busy on Ben Nevis today, especially the mid level cascades. Al, Rich and I waited while a few teams got going on Waterfall Gully and Gemini before getting going ourselves up Gemini. After a wee thaw yesterday, today's colder conditions made the ice fantastic and even fatter. The first pitch is still steep and long so the key to success is making sure you have the strength for the whole pitch by resting when you can. I try to tell myself to climb with better technique when I'm tired, after all that's when you'll need it. It is so easy for all your good technique to be forgotten a soon as strength starts to fade.
We did the icy bits in three pitches which worked well. Each pitch has great climbing and very comfortable belay ledges. The big smear is still excellent and well protected with a sling over the huge flake.
After the big ice smear it turns to classic Ben Nevis mixed climbing. Rock, turf, snow and ice all mixed in together with fun moves in an outrageous position. The last pitch up the twin grooves now has some very nice ice in them after the thaw freeze yesterday. It feels completely different to how it was two days ago.
Donald, Mark and Bob climbed most of Route I before retreating due to verglas on the last couple of metres. They then climbed Waterfall Gully and The Curtain. Ali and Christian climbed the big, steep cascade under Carn Dearg Buttress and Waterfall Gully. Lou and team climbed Boomers Requiem saying it was superb. Basically all the ice on mid-level cascade climbs is fantastic!
Another thaw tomorrow before colder and brighter weather next week. Keep your picks sharp!