Waterfall Gully (IV,4), Ben Nevis

Temperatures were above freezing today and generally looked uninspiring for winter climbing. Not a day to push the boat out. Florian and me had a look at the Curtain this morning but it was far too thin for climbing. We dipped down to Waterfall Gully, which we knew to still be in condition. The initial ice pitch was sketchy. My axes ripped through the soft ice, and poor screw protection in these conditions offered little reassurance. A tricky break right on the icefall at half height felt far too gripping for grade IV in these conditions. With no more freezing temperatures forecast, it was safe to safe we would probably be the last to climb the route this season.

Gemini Direct Start (left) & Waterfall Gully  (right)
Near the top of the ice pitch
(Photo by Florian Urban)
The difficulties were largely over once up the initial ice pitch. Some people abseil off the route once this pitch is completed but we chose to continue up the gully to the top. The climbing was now much easier although snow conditions soft. Climbing was grade II but interesting nonetheless with good views to the ice of Gemini above. The final traverse right to exit the gully onto the broader slopes above was probably far more delicate than typical due to the soft snow.

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