Thursday, 17 April 2008

Smith's Route, Ben Nevis - 16th April

An early start from Aviemore and I'm off to Ben Nevis for the first time this winter!
Ron and I arrived at the car park and there were only a few cars there which was surprising as good conditions normally mean no parking. The new path up to the dam made the walk in more of a pleasure compared to sliding about on the mud on the old path and it made the walk so much shorter.
It was a bit windier than we expected and the spindrift was blowing down our chosen routes so we opted to plough through the snow in Observatory Gully towards Smith's Route. There was one party ahead of us heading towards Smith's and another heading to Tower Scoop.
When we reached the bottom of Smith's the stance was a bit sketchy but the belay was good and Ron lead off on the first pitch. I followed on lovely ice to a belay just below the cave. Ron had belayed just below the cave under a little overhanging roof which was great as it gave shelter from any ice that could have come down. The first few moves looked steep but the actual climbing was good with little ledges for the feet and good placements for axes. What followed, I couldn't see!
When it came to my turn to follow, I enjoyed the first bit up to the icicle where I began to think how on earth do I get up that? I did, somehow, but with a lot of precarious foot and axe placements. I was glad I was the second! After that, eeaaah, hot aches and easier ground!
I lead the third pitch up easy angled snow and ice and Ron got the cornice...he hates cornices!


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