Wednesday 16 February 2011

Green Gully, Ben Nevis. Saturday 12th February 2011.

Eve Bradley & Matt Haigh from UKCkimbing responded to Iain who was looking for people to go out climbing with. Both had prior experience of winter walking & climbing and wanted to spend their weekend with Iain pushing their grades a bit and Eve wanted to learn a more about winter climbing techniques.

Iain decided that some classic Ben Nevis action was required for the Saturday and chose to guide the pair up Green Gully (IV'3) and we couldn't have had a better day for it. Green Gully is a very popular route - getting a mention in Cold Climbs amongst other well known climbing books. It is usually a very busy route, but on this day, having followed a great procession of climbers up the Allt A Mhuillin, there was only one party of three ahead of us.

In this first shot, Eve and Matt approach Iain at the second stance after climbing the first ice pitch which was in fine condition and not too steep. The whole route was in great condition with fantastic snow ice into which Iains DMM Rebels sank with a resounding "thunk" all the way. Because of this, it felt like fantastic safe ice climbing, the entire route.

Anyway, having started the route sometime shortly after 10am we eventually found ourselves on the final pitch at around 4pm and in shot two Eve and Matt approach Iain who is belaying them from above the cornice at the top of the route.

We climbed green Gully in 5 pitches although the final pitch was only a half rope length from the rocks behind Matt. The belays were adequate although Iain found the thought of leaving his clients attached to a bit of 5 mil tat and two pegs at the top of pitch two a bit much; and so backed it up with an ice screw. A very helpful chap soloed past all of us and gave Iain some hints on what the belays were like up ahead and the day couldn't have gone better.

The weather during the day had been great. Very light winds and sunshine in amongst the cloud. Sometimes we we were in cloud on the route and sometimes we could see as far as the Great Glen.

Every now & then avalanches of spindrift poured down the gully like a waterfall but they were not large in volume. The party ahead were knocking a fair bit of ice debris down on us from time to time but this was not causing too much concern.

We topped out to a fantastic sunset over Loch Linnhe as seen in photo three. A great finale to a great route!

The quickest way to get back down The Ben was to descend No4 Gully and at the top Iain cleared out the obvious snow bollard and set up a stacked abseil from Matt & Eve to follow him down to the easier snow slopes below the banked out part at the top of the route.

In photo four Eve abseils down to us with a party of onlookers above - many of whom soloed down the steep part.

We very quickly put the rest of No 4 behind us and arrived down by the CIC Hut by 5:30 pm.

The final photo is one last view up to Coire Na Ciste at 5:30 pm as we packed up our axes & crampons in preparation for the long walk back to the North Face car park.

The sky was clear although the wind had picked up and the edge of the plateau was a maelstrom of whirling snow - as can be seen in No3 Gully. This would no doubt lead to increased loading of windslab and avalanche risk for climbers the following day.

On Sunday we were intending to climb on Dorsal Arete (II) in Glen Coe. The weather was poor and Eve was tired and wisely chose to admit it, so, we sacked the day - bad news for Matt but good news for Iain who found himself with another personal admin day and a chance to have a rest before starting his next block of work the following day.

Matt & Eve thoroughly enjoyed climbing this Ben Nevis Classic; and you can enjoy all of the photos Iain took by visiting our Recent Photos page.

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