In the shadow of Ben Nevis

Today was the first of my 2 day winter skills course with Jon, Simon, Sam and Michael.  To get the most out of the day we made our way up to the CIC hut at the base of the North face of Ben Nevis, where for most of the day we got stunning views back down to the Great Glen, the North face and the CMD arête.  I don’t think I’ve done a skills day with such a back drop!

First off was going through step cutting and walking in crampons above the hut, where we then made our way around to below the North East buttress.  On the opposite side of the glen it was then time for ice axe arrests on the powder snow in the shadow of the CMD arête.  Later we walked round back towards the hut to look at hasty pits and how to climb up and down steeper snow that you might find at the top of a corrie.  A great day out and a lot covered.

The general conditions on the North face were mixed.  3 parties made their way to the Douglas Boulder, the Curtain was climbed and the climbers ab’ed off  a team got half way up Observatory gully and then descended.  There are some very big cornices above No. 4 gully and No. 5 gully and some big patches of wind slab around, some of which can be avoided, like the approach to the first platform on the North East buttress, but there is still a lot of snow high up!

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