Vanishing Gully (V,5) & Faulty Towers (III), Ben Nevis

With good conditions prevalent on the lower heights of Ben Bevis Rob and me went to take a look at Vanishing Gully. It looked in good condition. I led the first pitch up steep soft snow with virtually no protection on offer other than some spaced in-situ tat. The steepness was moderate but the lack of protection meant that the climbing required concentration.

Vanishing Gully
Rob seconding the first pitch of Vanishing Gully (V,5), Ben Nevis
From my belay on the left-hand side of the gully Rob had a tricky step right in order to gain the steep ice flowing down the second pitch. He was soon mounted on the ice and then quickly out of sight. The intermittent ice steps of the second pitch were probably the crux. The third pitch returned to less technically demanding but run-out climbing. The easier grade climbing to Tower Ridge didn't look worthwhile so we abseiled back down the route. It was a good route but a little too short and lacking situation compared to some of the other three star ice routes I have climbed on the Ben.

Rob's feet disappearing up the second pitch
Me leading the third pitch
With time to spare we climbed Faulty Towers (III) further left. This proved no push-over for the grade as the ice was thin in places. The route was maybe a little more mixed than typical? After four worthwhile pitches completed, I arrived on the lower portion of Tower Ridge as the light was beginning to dip. I belayed Rob up to me whilst, higher up the ridge, a helicopter rescue appeared to be in full swing. Douglas Gap looked only a short distance away so we descended via Douglas Gap West Gully. A great first day on the Ben.

Rob leading the first pitch of Faulty Towers
Rob seconding the second pitch of Faulty Towers (III), Ben Nevis
Rob leading the third pitch
Mountain Rescue a short distance above us on Tower Ridge


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