Winter again… then spring then summer

Waking up on Friday morning at 5:00am after 3 hours of sleep in the car wasn’t a great life experience. However, we were in the Ben Nevis north face car park, and had a climb to do. With it being Good Friday, the climb of choice was naturally Good Friday Climb (III ***) on Indicator Wall.

After boosting up to the CIC hut, Ben and I made our way over snowfields to try and find the start of the climb. Once identified, we deemed it necessary to protect the ‘easy terrace’ traverse to the start, as it wasn’t so much a terrace as the top of a slushy/powdery slope! Swimming and digging through this soft snow revealed some good ice beneath – ice screw belays were order of the day. Progress was met with frequent dumps of spindrift, until we reached a small cornice at the top, and the relief of the Ben Nevis trig point belay.

We had a bite to eat in fairly benign conditions at the top, then were presented with whiteout conditions. Being at the trig point, a bit of navigation (230° for 150m, 280° to path) saw us easily pick up the tourist track back down to civilisation and met Alice for a welcome meal at the Ben Nevis Inn.

Ben Nevis and CMD arete from Ring of Steall
Ben Nevis and CMD arete from Ring of Steall

On Saturday it started to become warmer, but not too warm to ski, so we all spent a day on the Nevis range. The higher slopes were still in cloud, but a good day.

Sunday saw the clouds lifting and the temperature increasing to springlike conditions. We decided to tackle the Ring of Steall. We all walked up Sgurr a’ Mhaim, the first Munro in the anticlockwise traverse, from where Ben and I continued to complete the ring. Winter conditions had all but disappeared, with warm rock under the hands. Only a couple of snowfields and the approach ridge to Stob Coire a’ Chairn were truly wintery.

Approach to Stob Coire a'Chairn
Approach to Stob Coire a’Chairn

The warmth of the day was welcome for the necessary river crossing near the magnificent Steall Falls, which were in strong vernal form.

Steall Falls
Steall Falls

Monday saw us all having a relaxing stroll around the forest near the Nevis Range cafe and some brunch, temperatures reaching 18°C on the drive south.