Myself and Lena went up to Ben Nevis today to climb Faulty Towers, low down for the strong wind forecast, short route to get Lena back in the grove on her first route this season and the right aspect with the avalanche forecast.
After a pleasant walk in where we got great views of the corie with a few strong snow showers we were at the base of the route. All geared up and ready to go I headed of the first ice fall a few meters up and about 5 meters high. Great.
Not so great, a few swings of the axe showed a slush puppy consistency. I thought this can’t be right, so I tried higher, yep. Bit to the right, water out the bottom. Up high left, even worse. Looking at the rock I had now exposed at the base of the ice fall and knowing the ice wouldn’t hold my weight I went back down to Lena, told her the news and considered options, a few of the grade 1/2 gullies near by didn’t inspire us and with quite a few other parties on other routes, we walked out.
So here are a few photos of conditions. 2 teams went up Vanishing Gully, but looked thin in the middle, the usual 3 teams on the curtain, a few teams around Waterfall gully area, one on Tower ridge and one towards the base of Number 2 gully. There are massive cornices around number 4 gully and Corie na ciste buttresses and avalanche debris out of number 5 and around the base of number 2 gully, but could have come out of Comb gully.