UPDATE July 2015: Ken and Hannah are now running Scottish walking, mountaineering and climbing courses for West Coast Mountain Guides.
I can tell you what’s not vanishing any time soon: winter and all that snow! Mike and I walked in to Ben Nevis to find more fresh snow lying and plenty more falling and being blown about. It felt more like the depths of winter today rather than the end of March.
Mike was after some coaching on steeper ice, so that he could gain the confidence to attempt more grade IV and in turn V routes, which will open up a whole host of classic climbs. With so much fresh snow making travel higher up the mountain difficult, not to mention more avalanche prone, we opted to stay low and made our way to the foot of Vanishing Gully. The route isn’t in bad condition, however, there are a number of patches where the snow is soft all the way to the rock beneath, so care is required. The crux icefall was in good shape.
In order to make the most of the route, and with no one behind us, I suggested to Mike that he be lowered back down the crux pitch, and have a go with my BD Fusions, to give him a taste of climbing leashless, with more technical tools than his own. He popped up at the belay above the crux icefall for a second time, with a smile on his face, I think I know what his next purchase might be…
We finished the route off, and abseiled back down the line. Very few people out and about today, it was a pretty burly day up there, but we had the odd clear spell. One team headed round to Castle Ridge area, one team went to try Gutless, and from what I could see, two teams binned it early on. The weather has since deteriorated this afternoon.