The weather on Ben Nevis can be fickle and when we ran our annual winter course we were often met by high winds. When the big routes were out due to weather we usually managed to get a route lower down. We still had to be careful especially after heavy snow as getting to the climbs could be taxing. I was always aware of avalanche danger especially from above. Years of climbing and searching on Call outs on the Ben gave me some great local knowledge. You always learned especially on the Ben. Here are a few thoughts of routes.
I often did the ice fall of Waterfall Gully Carn Dearg Buttress taking care getting to and then if conditions were poor or Avalanche prone. Then maybe abseiling off the gear at the belay that was pretty good and it was a steady lead for a inspiring leader.
The Curtain – Carn Dearg Buttress grade 4 is another low level ice climb but one that many climb. My first climb in the mid 70’ ‘s with warthog ice screws and a single peg belay was an awakening to winter climbing especially as 3 others tried to join us on the belay. The descent down 5 gully in avalanche conditions was soul searching. I remember seeing loads of cornice debris in the gully. Some as big as cars. I remember having my rope running behind me as I descended to the shelter of the gully walls. Nowadays with modern gear it’s a lot easier.
The Douglas Boulder – The South West Ridge or East Ridge of Tower Ridge can be a grand expedition – On a poor day you may see many climbers on the Douglas Boulder. Boulder is an understatement as it’s over 700 feet and brings you out on Tower Ridge.
Tower Scoop – 75 metre Grade 3. The obvious central ice fall on the rock band at the head of Observatory Gully. Be careful as the ground above is very avalanche prone and care is needed to avoid the cliffs when descending.