UPDATE July 2015: Ken and Hannah are now running Scottish walking, mountaineering and climbing courses for West Coast Mountain Guides.
Justin and I were back on Ben Nevis today (day 3 of his West Coast Mountain Guides course), and climbed Castle Ridge. Despite it being a glorious and calm day at sea level, things up high were a little different, with fresh winds, and spindrift aplenty! The winds were much more south-easterly than directly from the east as forecasted, so Castle Ridge, being tucked behind Carn Dearg Buttress offered a bit of shelter, whereas much of the rest of the mountain looked to be receiving the full brunt of it.
The route was in good condition, with there being plenty of scoured snow, and a nice line of foot prints to follow! That said route finding was fairly straight forward due to the amount of crampon scratches on the rock. Much of the route offered mountaineering terrain i.e. broken with the occasional step, however, there were two notable pitches, the first of which was a short groove at about 1/3 height, and a second longer section, at about 2/3 height, following a series of small ledge, with great handholds and gear throughout. Both sections were largely dry, and required more use of hands rather than axes today. The winds picked up a bit as we progressed, so we chose not to hang about, and topped out at 1pm.
So another new route for me, and a great route at that, with a very adventurous feel about it and one I shall definitely go back to in the future. It was also the first of Justin’s Ben Nevis ridges, so Tower Ridge next ? Not tomorrow though, as the winds are continuing to strengthen, and looking out the window now, I can see the clouds racing overhead…