Ben Nevis 18-01-13

The Ben took on a new look today altogether.  As there has been no thaw it would seem the very strong winds had literally blown the snow of the crag!  So its all ended up somewhere but who knows where?!  The Douglas Boulder and lower areas were a bit blacker, high mixed was looking great still.  The snow has stayed powdery and dry and was air-born most of the day, we were in Castle Coire at one point and there is mainly hard old snow in there and not much powder about at all.  The crags were a lot more stripped in there also than yesterday.  Ice is still building, especially lower down it seems, the icefalls below Carn Dearg are still getting some seepage so hopefully should improve further.  There were other teams out today but not sure what got climbed if anything as many were heading down fairly quickly most likely due to the winds up in the higher corries.
Rich was keen to go over some snow anchor options, climb some ice and have a look at ice threads.  So with a few skills to cover and high winds we headed for the icefalls and climbed Carn Dearg Cascade right hand.  The obvious steep fall behind in the photo isn’t far off, not quite there yet though.  The closer one we climbed and was really good, the first 40m pitch was great but the ice quality varied a bit.  The 2nd pitch is easier but was very thin.  After this we had plenty of time to cover snow belays and threads etc with good old snow in Castle Coire.
 Icefalls below Carn Dearg

Looking at ice threads and retreat options…