UPDATE July 2015: Ken and Hannah are now running Scottish walking, mountaineering and climbing courses for West Coast Mountain Guides.
Yesterday, I was out with Jenny, Catherine, Tina, John & Margret, who have their sights set on the Classic Haute Route (Chamonix to Zermatt) later this year, and were after a day of skills in preparation. We visited Aonach Mor and spent time focusing on movement skills both on and off crampons, as well as using an ice axe to cut steps and in self-arrest.
Today, it was back to winter (or alpine!) climbing on Ben Nevis. I was out with Tom & Siegfried. I had met Tom whilst in Nepal last November, and we had summited Island Peak on the same day, so it was great to see him again. A Jersey lad, he had not been up to the Highlands before, and was keen to reach the summit of Ben Nevis via an exciting route. Luckily, he had also managed to convince Siegfried to join him, so with a steady thaw in progress, Tower Ridge seemed like the perfect route, free from objective dangers of falling ice and debris, and climbable in most conditions, and always good fun.
The weather was a bit grey and windy as we reached the CIC Hut, but the gusts soon died down, and we were soon established on the ridge. Snow cover on the ridge is quite patchy at the moment, particularly up to the top of the Little Tower, but what snow there is, is generally quite firm and icy. Both Tom & Siegfried enjoyed the route, although I think that Tom perhaps enjoyed it more at the time! We wore crampons throughout, giving the route quite an alpine feel.
Very little visibility up there today, until we were a way down the Red Burn, but I could just about see that Hadrian’s was hanging on in there. There is a cold snap due this coming weekend, but after the forthcoming three warm days, it may be too late… Then again…