Course: Improvers Snow & Ice
Leader: Dave Barker
Day 1: Ben Nevis – The Comb – Green Gully IV,3
We enjoyed clear blue skies initially which clouded in later (a great cloud inversion and clear on the summit). The snow conditions were firm after overnight with cold temperatures. Drove up to top car park for 7.30 and walked in to Coire na Ciste in very warm temperatures.
There were teams on most of the routes that we wanted to do so we decided to gear up below the Comb and then make our way leisurely up to Green Gully to let the two teams ahead get well up the route.
We got on the route when the teams ahead were two pitches up and pitched the route with me leading. On the way up, we looked at, techniques to use on ice of varying angles, being a good second, stance management, climbing calls, belay construction and how to enjoy yourself in great conditions on an awesome route. We topped out to a fantastic cloud inversion with just a couple of peaks peeking through the cloud inversion. We descended via the mountain track, red burn, half way lochan and the moorland crossing back to the top car park. A fantastic day!
Day 2: Ben Nevis – Raeburn’s Wall – The White Line III (III,4)
There werestronger winds this morning and clear early on, clouded in mid morning with brief periods of clearing at plateau level and again snow conditions were firm after overnight freezing temperatures.
We repeated our approach of the previous day in slightly cooler, but still warm conditions. We geared up near the lochan and headed up toward The White Line, which appeared to have no one on it. As we made the final approach a team appeared on the route, who must have been gearing upout of site at the base of the route. As the route weaves about a bit we decided to continue as we could organise ourselves not to be directly under the team above.
Another team muscled their way in front of us at the last minute so we decided to hang around at the base of the route, enjoying the sunshine and the views and recapping learning points from the previous day as well as introducing some non verbal climbing communication, which we then used on the route. We pitched the route, with me leading and reinforced all the skills that we had introduced the previous day. As we started the route the cloud closed in and reduced the visability to a short distance. We split the first pitch into two to let the other teams get away from us, which also allowed some coaching on steeper ice technique. We made good progress on the route and descended using compass and pacing across the plateau. We then got some visability and headed back to the car park, via the red burn, half way lochan and the moorland crossing.