Searching for ice on the Ben

By Dan Bradley>

So on Thursday evening me and the Captain (Alex Dalton) set off to beautiful rainy and warm Scotland for a smudging of ice climbing. Problem is that most of the snow is gone and the only ice left is high up on Ben Nevis which means that we have ice to climb, but we have to walk up the Ben every time. It’s kind of ok the first couple of times but my legs are starting to hurt!

On the way up we sneaked into the Foundry for a boot demo evening with a company called Tenaya, some pretty new boots that come all the way from Spain and ones to check out if you haven’t already. After a few hours driving we pulled over and passed out in the back of the van in the world’s noisiest car park.

Our accommodation was at the Ballachulish Hotel which is well worth checking out for an amazing deal, probably works out the same as camping..ish but we are staying in comfort.

Our first route on the Ben was a route called Boomers Requiem on the Carn Dearg buttress, a couple of pitches of steep ice then a long climb up a gully, which we tried to avoid because of avalanche risk, so it turned out to be another 6 pitches of mixed climbing and snow slopes. By the time we had reached the summit, walked off the back and around to the north face car park it was around an 11 hour day and we were pooped!

In between rests, going snowboarding and some mini climbs we managed to get back on the Ben for another proper route, the weather was windy, considerable avalanche risk and lots of spin drift but we were going to have a go on Compression Cracks, an ice route then mixed climbing for a couple of pitches followed by a long ridge climb. Unfortunately we did not manage to get an Alpine start and got stuck behind a couple of parties, so it involved getting very cold and some inventive dancing on ledges trying to keep warm. They however abseiled back off and we managed to go in for the overtake… to then get stuck in a white out, love it!
Winter climbing in a Scottish gully

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