Sitting outside this afternoon in shorts and a t-shirt it seemed strange to think that I had been ice climbing today. Mike and I went up Ben Nevis after a slight frost but the sun already high above Carn Mor Dearg. It was a very warm walk in and the snow in the sunshine was already very soft. However in the shade the snow was really quite firm and the climbing was good.
As the snow and ice melts away there is a much greater hazard of rock and ice fall as well as collapsing cornices. A large collapse above North Gully recently has left debris all the way down into the coire. So careful route selection is very important. Mike and I went for Number Two Gully Buttress. There is no cornice above the route and no ice hanging above the climb. Also the sun stays off the face for most of the day and this is the most important thing. The ice was very nice although detached in some places and the views spectacular.
Comb Gully Buttress does get the sunshine and a few large blocks of ice fell off it as we were climbing. There are also some very overhanging cornices baking in the sunshine over several faces and gullies.
The air was crystal clear and Mike and I enjoyed the views of The Cuillin, Rhum, Mull and even further away in all directions. We also got a great bum slide down the Red Burn! One more dry day then it goes colder and more mixed so if you are keen there will be plenty of ice climbing and skiing still to enjoy.