Friday, 22 November 2013

Ben Nevis Winter Conditions 21.11.13

I made my way to the Ben with Dan Tait yesterday. The plan was to climb Cornucopia, but I suspected this would change as I got more scared on the walk in.
The first sight of the North Face showed some nice white looking upper cliffs, but the lower buttresses were still black.
The view from the hut was even better!
The Douglas boulder didn't look in. No easy short walk in options at the moment.

We walked up further into the corrie with cliffs getting whiter as we went higher. I managed to remain psyched for Cornucopia so I aimed for that. Sioux wall looked in a good lean condition, and The Secret looked in about the same condition of the cool picture of Andy doing the first ascent.
The weather was really nice all the way up being still and clear. This was until we reached No.3 Gully where the wind seemed to be funneled up it. I managed to flake the ropes up hill!
Pitch 1 of is supposed to be a steep snow pitch, but it was far from this. I had to mantle onto a stein pull, not a usual snow climbing technique. 

Pitch 2 is the crux pitch with what I have heard is supposed to be a bit of a perplexing crux. Despite getting hot aches just below the crux moves it didn't go down to badly. There are loads of small features for the feet and a nice fat crack for good gear and torquing. Despite a bit of glove faff Dan did well seconding this pitch, although he did fall off at the crux. Im quite impressed seeing as the previously hardest mixed he has climbed is Moonshadow (IV) in SCNL with me last year. 

The 3rd pitch was a cool little chimney. After the first few meters it felt quite secure so I just ran it out a bit to save time. We had taken a long time climbing this route so in the end we were both using head torches. 
Mixed things look good at the moment, especially high up. Winter is definitely here!

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