/ UKC Conditions Report Ben Nevis 29 March 12

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Mike Pescod - on 29 Mar 2012
The last week felt more like good summer weather than winter climbing weather. While high temperature records were being set in the glens, the dry atmosphere and slight frosts over night kept the snow firm and the ice good to climb ... what was left of it.

Smith's Route was climbed on Tuesday, Upper Tower Cascade Left Hand, Gardyloo Gully and Number Two Gully plus the grade I gullies all saw ascents.

Today though with higher humidity and a breeze the snow was mushy and the ice running with water. I went up Tower Gully with an open mind but was happy not to climb anything steep.

So, at last, it's just about all gone. Gardyloo Gully, Number Two Gully and the Grade I gullies are all that's left really. The great ridges are just about free of snow but it would be sensible to carry an ice axe anyway. We are forecast colder temperatures in the coming week so don't get caught out - it is only March still, despite appearances!

Mike
UKC Ben Nevis Correspondent

http://www.abacusmountainguides.com/
Richard Baynes - on 30 Mar 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod: So do you recall an earlier close of play?
DefenderKen on 30 Mar 2012
In reply to Richard Baynes:

Thanks Mike,

We had a crackingly good ascent of number 4 gully last Saturday which was particularly good higher up. Using axe as 'walking stick' lower down the snow pack was a bit soft but good footholds with the G12's. Last 100 metres after turning the corner it firmed up nicely with some first ever front pointing to get up the last bit. Only worry was the slumped cornice which being no expert looked likely to collapse within the next few days. Going to put some pics on my profile.

A party of three at the top were going to descend but were put off by the look of it. Can the more knowledgeable people than me tell me how likely that would be to happen?

We had two ice falls which put the be-jeesus up me as it was chunks the size of dinner plates that had all the plasticity of concrete whistling over our heads. Our first grade 1 route so all part of the learning experience.......

Winter going up, swelteringly summer conditions back down pony track for well earned Guinness in the Ben Nevis Inn. Beer in the sun with no midges, what's that all about?!
Mike Pescod - on 30 Mar 2012
In reply to DefenderKen: Well done, sounds like you had a top day.

The cornices are now all very stable. Nearly all the overhanging bits have fallen off already. The cracks you see now are called sag (or slump or creep) lines where the snowpack in the gully has creeped downhill a bit opening up the gap at the top. These do not normally indicate the whole lot is going to fall off. The snow will just melt back slowly.

The ice is falling off the crags though and that is quite a hazard as you noticed!

Mike
Mike Pescod - on 30 Mar 2012
In reply to Richard Baynes: No, not really. It was a very disappointing end to the winter ... but a great start to the summer rock climbing!

Mike
In reply to Mike Pescod:
Is there much 'white material' left on Good Friday climb or Comb gully? Just trying to work out what the chances of anything coming back in to condition given the forecast for next week...

(Perhaps meriting optimist of the year award?)

NMM
Richard Baynes - on 30 Mar 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod: Yep, climbed at Polldubh on Wednesday and was regretting the lack of sun cream.
chrisprescott - on 31 Mar 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod: I'm interested to see what the next couple of weeks throw up if this is anything to go by - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-17572401
Mike Pescod - on 31 Mar 2012
In reply to Northern Mountain Monkey: I had a nice fly round the corrie today in Navy 177 on some LMRT training - Good Friday Climb needs to rebuild quite a bit but it could happen. I think Comb Gully is beyond repair this winter ... but I could be proved wrong.

And I thought I was optimistic!

Mike
chrisprescott - on 01 Apr 2012
In reply to Mike Pescod: I have to stay optimistic otherwise I might cry!
In reply to Mike Pescod:
Thanks Mike. It's what happens when you live South of the border and adapt to getting the best out of a Lakeland winter, which has been poor compared to the last few!

NMM
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Mike Pescod - on 01 Apr 2012
In reply to chrisprescott: Positive thinking is the first requirement for winter climbing I think!

Mike

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