It was good to have our instructors back at work in the mountains after the Festive and New Year excesses.
Today Andy was out with Matt. They headed up into Stob Coire nam Beith. With only the main easy gully lines left complete above 900 m their aim was to climb Central Gully II between Church Door Buttress and Diamond Buttress.
However after a warm walk in to the snow line at 850 m they found that the bottom pitch was blocked by a huge chock stone. Having opted to solo the route this halted their tracks!
The snow above 950 m was well bonded and a wind crust was forming in the strong north easterly wind. They carried on up good shallow gullies and broken ground at around grade I or II and finally reached the summit of Bidean nam Bian They traversed over to Stob Coirie nan Lochan 1115 m and so descended Broad Gully, grade I.
Broad Gully was complete. Rime ice was covering the crags today and some icing was seen on the buttress routes above 900 m.
The snow pack was stable but isolated areas of wind slab gave concern on North to North West facing scarp slopes.
A good dump of snow is required to bring the mid to higher grades routes in. But pleasingly it was allot more like winter today. And there is plenty of areas to run courses on.
We are out again tomorrow with clients on a two day intro to winter climbing course. We will post conditions again tomorrow evening. Our 27th season has begun.
Interesting wee gullies to explore.
Stob Coire nam Beith from approx 850m
The ice is growing. Folk found reasonable conditions on Ben Nevis today. Reports were of conditions improving well.
Soft wind slab on a deep layer of wet snow. Broke away easily on walking on it.
Rime is developing.
Climbers heading up Broad Gully as we descended. Dorsal Arete visible above.