I didn't end up climbing anything this morning on Ben Nevis, as my routes of choice were either out of condition or still threatened by large cornices. No matter, as I'd rather wait until winter returns properly…quality not quantity for me this season.
However as I've had a fair few emails over the last requesting updates on snow conditions on the Ben, I took the opportunity to take some photos to keep you all informed of how things stand in terms of winter climbing.
There's no avoiding it unfortunately…the Highlands have suffered a severe thaw over the last week or so. All the buttresses and ridges on the Ben are looking pretty black and bare - Tower Ridge and Castle Ridge for example both being in "Alpine" condition at the moment, i.e with large snow-free areas.
No.3 Gully and Creag Coire na Ciste
However due to today's colder temperatures the remaining snow is firming up very nicely. All the easy gullies out of Coire na Ciste (No.2, No.3, No4) are still full, as are South Gully, Central Gully (I think…) and North Gully which are all threatened by cornices.
Coire na Ciste and Tower Ridge on the left.
There looks to be a fair amount of ice high up on the Orion face and Indicator Wall although I have no idea how thick it is, and whether it will be climbable or not by the weekend. At a guess, routes like Good Friday Climb and Tower Scoop might be pretty good in a day or two, but that is a guess as I haven't been to have a look!
The Orion Face
Lower down, Ledge Route looks like it may have some rocky sections, and most of the ice that was forming on the North wall of Carn Dearg Buttress is either gone or has reduced a lot. Both the Castle Gullies have got small holes in the snow cover - it looks like these could present difficulties, so I wouldn't recommend them as descent routes just now.
The Castle area
In Glencoe the only climbing areas with any significant remaining snow accumulations are Stob Coire nan Lochan, and the North East and North West faces of Bidean nam Bian. Forget Dorsal Arete or any of the other buttress routes on SCnL until we get fresh snow, and I'm not certain but it looks most of the gully lines are quite thin or have holes.
Raeburn's Wall and No.2 Gully
So…not great news but not all bad either! Especially with regards to the Ben, there's still lots to do - and given some more snowfall it won't take long for it to recover well.
Hope that's helpful folks, please don't hesitate to email or message me on Facebook if you need other details.