Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These Conditions Reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Ben Nevis Winter Conditions Overview

The big thaw of Wednesday saturated the snow pack at all levels and melted back the snow cover but left behind plenty of ice. The Shroud is still standing, Mega Route X is a bit thin at the bottom and The Curtain and Vanishing Gully have both been climbed now that it has gone a bit colder. In fact, with cold conditions for several days to come the big ice climbs will get fatter with the dribbles running down them now forming ice.

Yesterday and last night we had fresh snow falling down to 400m. Snow showers continued today so we now have about 30cm of general fresh snow cover which has been blown by westerly winds into deep drifts in many places. There was plenty of spindrift coming down the gullies and faces so ridge climbing was the best option today. I climbed Tower Ridge with Paul today and had great fun. The soft snow is fairly useless and the old snow quite icy in many places underneath. It is all well filed in though and despite wading up the whole ridge we made good time. The other big ridges are much the same with old icy snow and lots of fresh snow on top.

Point Five Gully, Zero Gully, Hadrian's Wall Direct, Smith's Route, The Cascade, Vanishing Gully and The Curtain are all still well formed. Many more grade III and IV ice climbs are formed as well. However with all this fresh snow it will be tricky getting to the climbs and spindrift and avalanche hazard will detract from their enjoyment. We have much more snow forecast to fall on Sunday too. Skiing might be a good option for a few days to come!

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