I saw a blog post of someone who climbed Orion Face Direct on Wednesday and it looked really good. I checked the weather and luckily for me it was looking good for Friday. Off I set on Thursday night bound for Ben Nevis. I had chosen to go alone on this one. I didn't want a long day, and you sort of have to if you pitch things, and I just wanted to move nice and freely through the mountains at my own pace.
|Tower Ridge from Coire na Ciest|
The snow on the ridge was amazing and there was good ice were it was needed. I climbed quite slowly as it was dark and I was still feeling a bit tired. I found tower gap quite challenging and I can understand why it catches a lot of people out. The last part was quite easy and I topped out at 5.55 am. My plan was to now down climb Tower Gully and then climb back up Smiths Route (V 5) however there was a large cornice on Tower Gully and I didn't feel like tunneling it. I also found out later on that Smiths Route had a big cornice at the top, so I'm glad I didn't try it.
I ended up going down Number 4 Gully. My main reason of coming to the Ben today was to try Orion Face Direct (V 5) so I made my way to this to hopefully avoid the crowds before it got too late. I was first on the route, despite being quite closely followed by another party. Orion was in stonking nic' with, for the most part, first time placements. The cruxy traverse was a bit thin but nothing that lanking through couldn't solve. For the more adventurous climber the tracks going up the face may have deterred from the experience but I was quite glad of them, being on-sight and soloing.
|Orion Face. You can just make me out on the first pitch. (Photo Credit: Roxcool)|
Point Five Gully, Zero Gully, Hadrian's Wall Direct and Green Gully all look fat and in very good condition.
The Minus Face routes may well go if you are delicate and ballsy enough.
Number 2 Gully Buttress looked ok too.
There was unfortunately a large patch of snow missing on the traverse above The Curtain on Ledge Route.
There are more than this, just go and look for yourself. Of course the two routes I did are "in" too.
Ice conditions are amazing. Go out and enjoy them! It may be your last chance this season.
|Coire na Ciste|