Monday, 13 January 2014

Start of my winter season on Castle Ridge

A very snowy looking Ben Nevis to start the season

This week is the start of my usual Scottish winter season and I seemed to have timed it very well with great weather arriving after a couple of weeks of wet snowfall and gales. For the next 4 days I'm working with SKK who's away to attempt Everest in April this year. the plan was for a full skills audit, plenty of mileage and height gain and lots of exposed mixed terrain. The Ben was looking pretty impressive in the sunshine and Castle Ridge was the obvious target. This grade III sees far less traffic than the neighboring Ledge Route and it's notorious crux groove has flummoxed a number of very good climbers. Conditions today gave plenty of helpful snow and ice on all the tricky steps and secure footing on the exposed upper reaches and we made quick time up into the cloud and the top of the ridge. Strong winds and spindrift meant that we needed goggles as we arrived on the plateau. We navigated to the top of No 4 Gully but the huge cornice and evidence of significant loading meant that Red Burn was the only sensible descent option. The swirling southerlies were also loading up the left bank of the final gully but it was easy to find a safe path back to half way lochan and down across the bog.

Deep snow & good ice on the ridge 

 Breaking trail up Castle Ridge III

Good neve in places

Checking out the descent down No 4 Gully

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