/ Ben Nevis conditions late April 2013
Coire na Ciste was almost empty - we spotted other 2 parties on Saturday in the rorrie and that was all.
On Saturday all the buttresses looked black. Low ice routes like Vanishing Gully were not visible except for a bit of remnants. Many snow gullies are still complete, like West Gully to Tower Ridge. Major high ice routes like Green Gully, Two Step Corner, Central Gully Right-Hand looked OK. (Central Gully Left-Hand seems to lack of the ice at the bottom.) We did Thompson's Route and found it was basically fine, though I guess the ice could be fatter in better conditions; that means Number Three Gully Buttress is also fine. Cornices above 2-Step looked huge, that above Central Gully looked big, that above Green Gully looked substantial. There was an almost continuous spin-drift avalanches in Green Gully on Saturday, perhaps driven by the strong southerly wind (so we backed off).
From Saturday night to Sunday morning when we left, there was a massive snow fall high up in Ben. I don't have a quantitative measurement, but my gut feeling was 20cm or more. All the buttresses were coated with snow, looking very white. With freeze-thaw conditions, many routes may become a good nick?
We didn't climb on Sunday for the fear of avalanches... (and it is in April!!)
Two of my friends did Point Five on Saturday, and reported the ice was, though complete, pretty thin, and they placed only 2 ice screws in the entire route... Not for faint-hearted?
ps. We lost a small rubbish bag in Coire na Ciste on Saturday during night, perhaps blown away or possibly covered with new snow... My apologies for that!!
Probably should also mention that a fair amount of ice was falling towards the end of the day. Freeze/thaw cycles and all that.
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