Fresh, soft, fluffy snow covers the hills above 700m after three days of heavy snow showers. Climbing on Ben Nevis today felt like a mix of early season awkwardness with fresh snow on loose rocks and late season warmth from the sun. We certainly had the North Face to ourselves.
I climbed a slight variation on Number Three Gully Buttress with David Wilson. David has some great climbing experience from a few years back but he left his 1972 Terrodactyls at home in favour of my BD Reactor ice axes! The approach slopes were heavy going with the new snow and there is certainly some avalanche hazard. When the sun gets onto the fresh snow I think we will get some point release slides. The old snow is frozen hard and the ice on the climb is fat and firm.
The last pitch or two do not have much old snow or ice on, the sun melted it away last week. There is plenty of new snow though. It was well below freezing on the plateau and in the breeze and it would be very easy to get lost without good navigation. If you are planning on walking up Ben Nevis please make sure you can use a compass.
We are forecast cold weather with more snowfall this week so don't expect it to be much different at the bank holiday weekend.