Monday, 28 March 2011

The Ben is hanging on in.

I spent the weekend working for West Coast Mountain guides climbing with Anne. Anne had climbed some of the classic routes on the Ben already so already our choice of routes was starting to shrink. On Saturday morning after a bit of a chat we decided on Green gully. This is a fine route going through some good scenery giving a no. of good pitches on ice. We arrived at the bottom of the route at the same time as another team but there was enough room for us to climb it at the same time which made it a very sociable outing. The first pitch of this route is the crux but at this time of year it is banked out giving a very short and straight forward pitch. The ice was in excellent condition and had seen a lot of traffic in the past week meaning we just had to hook our way up the route hardly ever having to swing. We finished by the direct route which gave another fantastic pitch. The Freezing level was above the summit all day which made for a slightly damp day but other than that a good one.

Anne enjoying good ice on Green gully.

After chatting with Alan on the Saturday evening we decided to head up to Indicator wall on the Sunday. About half way up Observatory gully the snow started to firm up showing that the freezing level had dropped from the previous day. We made our way to the foot of indicator wall and pitched round the corner because of the steep firm snow. I could see one team at the foot of our route and was happy to wait a little but as I arrived at the belay I saw a team of three that were waiting around the corner. So with a very long wait on our hands we made a decision to climb The good Friday climb instead. This is another Ben Classic which at the moment has a very good 30m pitch of ice at grade III.

Anne at the top of the crux ice pitch on The Good Friday climb. 

Other teams this weekend have been on Point 5, Smiths, Hadrian's(looking a bit thin now), Indicator wall, Tower scoop, Tower ridge, Glover's chimney, The whit line, The cascade, Combe gully, Central gully left and right. There is still plenty of ice to go at you just need to go high and start early. 

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