/ UKC/UKH Winter Conditions Report - Ben Nevis 6th February 2014
Slightly warmer conditions on Sunday and Monday triggered more massive avalanches. It cooled a little on Tuesday and Wednesday but it snowed some more today.
On Tuesday I climbed NE Buttress. This is an absolute classic climb and with SE winds recently it was likely to be clear of too much fresh snow. We approached by the traverse to the First Platform from Coire Leis on hard snow and took the variation onto the Minus Face at the start. The Minus Face has little ice and lots of snow on it still, as expected.
NE Buttress is so buried in snow that there is very little climbing on it. There is lots of wading and digging for protection but really only the Mantrap is difficult climbing. Even the 40' Corner is steady away but with no protection.
There is a sizeable cornice above the descent into Coire Leis, Number Two Gully has a monster cornice at the top and Number Four Gully has a big one too.
Nobody has been up Observatory Gully for a long time. Ridges and Buttresses are still the best option but some ice has been forming. The Shroud looks fat now and a bit more blue.
Wow. The Shroud looks as fat as when we did it back in 1999.
I was thinking of taking a friend up Ledge Route on Sunday, hopefully getting a little shelter from the forecasted NW. I will obviously be careful and consider No5 entrance etc for instability, but I just wondered if you had any opinions, especially given tonight's forecast?
The SAIS could be worse, but is this a non-starter?
With the forecasts we have currently, I think I would expect to get up Ledge Route on Sunday. There were people goin gup and down it today but their tracks will be buried by Sunday. It's just a long snow route at the moment, no ice and barely any rock.
Thanks Mike, that was my gut feel. The snowy conditions will suit my inexperienced pal.
Was up there Thursday with Ledge Route on Friday pics here http://markswalks.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/ledge-route-again/ Like Mike says starts a snow plod and ends a balancing act, no point in taking loads of iron mungery if your doing that one. Loads of new avalanche activity visible on Thursday with it warming up, that new one came close to the hut again ehh! Didn't envy you on Thursday Mike, Got soaked in the heavy sleet on the way back down the track, must have been hard work on a route in that.
Decided against it as the forecast swithered from gale force to storm force and back again, with varying levels of precipitation too. Went for a very snowy wade up the North flank of the Red Burn instead, and came to within 800m of the summit before sacking it in a complete white-out. Don't like the Gardyloo dogleg at the best of times, and today, it was a leap of faith, good nav or not.
For walkers, it is a serious old place right now. Three parties followed our prints, but all thankfully turned back at the top of the burn.
The path after the crossing is seriously banked out, and looking very suspect, as is most of the South side of the Red Burn.
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