UPDATE July 2015: Ken and Hannah are now running Scottish walking, mountaineering and climbing courses for West Coast Mountain Guides.
After climbing one of the closest routes to the car park on Ben Nevis yesterday, Paul and I thought we would go for the polar opposite today and head high into Observatory Gully and climb Good Friday Climb, one of the highest winter climbs on the mountain. With the clear skies overnight, the approach slopes were quite firm, however, as the sun caught the eastern flanks of Tower Ridge, debris was peeling off, so we stayed hard left as we made our way up to the climb.
Much of the exposed ice is now rock hard, and quite glassy and brittle in places, which meant bombproof ice screw belays, so long as the ice was well attached to the rock! We pitched up the steep snow slopes that lie beneath Indicator Wall, before gaining the steep ice pitch on Good Friday Climb, which Paul made short work of, however, he quickly appreciated that ice is often steeper than it looks! To make the most of the route we finished up the final pitch of Indicator R/H, enabling us to top out right by the summit cairn of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest belay.
It’s been a great and varied couple of days, and it was interesting to see what had survived the steady thaws of late, and to see how firm the ice is in places. Hadrian’s Wall is complete, the pitch above the main ice fall is definitely thin, but looks climbable. Tower Scoop looks brilliant, Point 5, Indicator & R/H and Smith’s Route all look fine, Shot in the Back and Shot in the Foot look complete, however, the first pitch of Zero Gully looks thin and broken.