With an early start from the North face car park Matt and myself joined the race of people to the CIC hut. I knew today was going to be busy so I had a number of options in mind. However at the hut we were both completely knackered and with many teams heading into the Orion area we decided to miss the crowds and headed up to Coire na Ciste to have a look. The snow was very deep up to the lochans and with a lot of spin drift falling down Vanishing gully and Italian climb we decided to avoid the suspect slopes above those routes. Jubilation on Trident buttress was an option but with more than likely loading of the north east snow slops at the top and number 4 gully for descent we decided not, even though it was in good condition.
So we headed back to the CIC cascades area to make something of the day and I lead a grade 3 pitch to the right of the main buttress. With a loud waterfall behind the ice in the gully line and a hollow sound with the placements I made sure to test every placement before weighting it.
Conditions do look good high up, just need to be careful of exit slops and approach slopes. There were teams on Castle ridge, Waterfall gully, North East ridge, Tower ridge, Vanishing gully, many around the Orion area, we viewed 6 teams on Orion Direct at about 11.30.