With just one day left before heading home I met up with Dave on Thursday night in Nevis bar to discuss what we could do, if anything the next day. I’d had a walk up the Ben North face track as far as the hut that morning before getting drenched on the way down so I knew what conditions where like. However it had definitely cooled down since then and forecast was for a good day on the Friday, so with Dave and I not knowing each other and I not wanting to scare myself like on Lurchers we decided on an old favorite the Ledge route. A heavy snow shower on the walk up to the hut didn’t dampen our spirit as it least it showed the freezing level had dropped, indeed by the hut the deep snow was almost bearing my weight, almost! We started the long pull up to No 5 gully stopping on the way at the usual boulder to gear up, by now the weather had cleared and we could see other teams heading in the same direction, as well as lads on The Douglas Boulder, on the cairn Dearg Buttress there was a couple of lads on what looked like Route 1 and I believe Mr Hughes Mountaineering on Centurion. A group or 2 in front of us had thankfully broke trail up the No 5 gully and onto what is usually the slaby ramp. At the moment though there’s so much snow the ramps completely banked out and you pretty much step off No 5 and straight onto the ramp. Makes the bottom half of the route a bit boring, but still best to do things right, so we roped up and set up a belay etc. Had to laugh though when this elderly gentleman complete with the retro gear and I’m talking kit from the sixties, axe and crampons the lot, walked up past us pointing out the good anchor point. Laughed even louder (and still laughing) when halfway up when met up with a group of 4 roped up and walking down after they turned back at the bad step when hwo should appear behind them after been to the top and then descending the same route as its a quicker way back, but the same old guy, morning, morning as he strolled past us, just goes to show experience is worth more than all your modern gear. Now on the ridge I was looking around for the telephoto lenses as I was now partly convinced this guys was part of some reenactment and I wanted to look my best. Once on the ridge it got a bit more interesting as the snow has made it a bit narrower than usual, no chance of any gear placements other than the odd sling over a block so its more a case of walking together with the “if you fall on one side ill jump/slide off the other” scenario. Topping out we realized we timed it about right as the clouds cleared to give us cracking views on the way down, loads and loads of snow in Red Burn and the Tourist track is obliterated above the crossing point with people walking all over the place, (so if your a walker reading this don’t follow foot prints or you might end up stepping of the North Face). Had a good crack with the 2 Irish lads on the same route on the way down, did’t envy their walk back to the NF car park though and was glad we were getting picked up at the Ben Nevis inn. All in all not a bad end to my 2 1/2 weeks in Scotland, back home now doing lots off washing and trying to get rid of the wet dog smell, finger crossed for a settled high pressure centered off Skye ehh!!
Ledge Route, again!