UPDATE July 2015: Ken and Hannah are now running Scottish walking, mountaineering and climbing courses for West Coast Mountain Guides.
Today I was out with Ezra and Arlo, two competent climbers from Bristol, who having climbed a number of mid grade winter routes, were keen to experience something slightly steeper and icy. Luckily the forecast for today was great and so after two wild days, walking into Ben Nevis this morning was a pleasant change, with clear skies and very little wind. There were also only four teams in front of us, one on Hadrian’s Wall, two heading to Orion Direct and one to Minus Two Gully, which gave us plenty of options, but with arguably the most famous ice gully in the world free of climbers, we made our way up to the foot of Point Five Gully.
The first pitch was in great condition, however, the second and third pitches required a bit more care as there was a mixture of good ice and crusty snow. Both Ezra and Arlo did well to climb the steeper pitches, as they certainly weren’t straight forward in the current conditions. We continued to pitch above the rogue pitch, where again, the crust was a common feature, but didn’t in anyway detract from the climb. Plenty of ice bosses for ice screws/belays.
We topped out onto a sunny plateau, and were greeted with fantastic views in every direction. It wasn’t a bad day to be out on the hill, and for Ezra and Arlo, not a bad introduction to the world of steeper ice climbing. I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides.
Meanwhile, Hannah was also out, enjoying the sunshine and vast quantities of skiable snow. She was out with Gill and Nigel, ski touring between Glencoe and Kinlochleven.