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Topic - UKC/UKH Winter Conditions Report - Ben Nevis 7th March 2014

Mike Pescod - on 07 Mar 2014
Conditions remain challenging for climbing on Ben Nevis but still with great potential to turn out brilliantly.

A big thaw with heavy rain to the summit triggered yet more big avalanches on Wednesday and yesterday. It is colder today, re-freezing the snow. Rapid thaw freeze cycles over the next few days will help to stabilise the snow pack further but we will get yet more snow fall too. It looks like it will be a very stormy weekend.

The great ridges remain popular and are very well snowed up. NE Buttress has lots of snow climbing and one technical move on the Mantrap. Tower Ridge is steady away and even Observatory Ridge is relatively straightforward.

There is some ice around - The Curtain remains fat but Curtain Rail was too cruddy on Tuesday; Newbiggins Far Right Variation and Raeburn's Arete were enjoyed this week too. The Shroud was starting to reform before the thaw set in. Gemini still has ice on the big smear.

Higher up, few climbs have been attempted. Mercury was climbed a couple of times last weekend and is an excellent looking route which is not often well formed. This is the kind of route I'm hoping we'll be able to enjoy next week when the weather finally settles down a bit.

None of the big classic ice routes have been climbed and the big easy gullies all have major cornice problems. In fact there are many large cornices above many of the crags so check out the exit to your route before you start!

High pressure centred over England next week will hopefully bring more settled weather with frosts and drier air to freeze the snow and form ice. If this happens we could at long last get to enjoy some ice climbing. It's the stormy weather we have to endure to enjoy the ice climbing at its best ... we've been doing a lot of enduring so hopefully we'll get the enjoying soon.

Mike Pescod
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