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Topic - UKC/UKH Winter Conditions Report - Ben Nevis 13th March 2014

Mike Pescod - on 13 Mar 2014
At long last we just had some great days of ice climbing on Ben Nevis. The thaw of last week and the weekend was replaced by dry, calm, frosty weather on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Most of the snow on the big faces was transformed into brilliant snow-ice and the climbing was excellent.

It was Big Wednesday on Ben Nevis yesterday. A better frost and slightly colder day made it a brilliant day for ice climbing. All three minus gullies, Left Hand Route, Right Hand Route, Minus One Buttress, Long Climb Finish to Orion Direct, Orion Diretisima and Slav Route were all climbed. There were also teams climbing Point Blank and Integration, big serious routes that are very rarely in condition.

The big ridges were all great as well and are very well snowed in.

However, cornices are a very real threat at the moment and will remain so for a while. Several cornice collapses triggered avalanches this week.

Do not climb underneath any areas threatened by cornice collapse.

The cornices are mostly above the following areas -

Hadrian's Wall to Observatory Buttress.
Good Friday Climb to Tower Ridge including Indicator Wall and Gardyloo Buttress.
Tower Ridge to Comb Gully including all of The Cascades.
Green Gully to Number Three Gully Buttress.
Creag Coire na Ciste to Number Four Gully.

All the grade I and II gullies onto the summit plateau have very large and unstable cornices that should not be approached due to the possibility of collapse several metres back from the edge even when they are not overhanging.

Today is dreich (wet and soggy) but not washing away very much ice. If we get some more good weather there will be lots of ice climbing to enjoy over the next few weeks.

Mike Pescod
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