On the 13th February Maeve, Gerard, Mike G, John H, Seamus and I headed to Onich for a long weekends climbing and to overlap with the MI meet.
There was a lot of snow on the mountains and avalanche warnings were high, especially in the main climbing areas. On our first day we settled for The Zig Zags, on the North Face of Gearr Aonach which is a reasonably low level route. It was a pleasant and relatively short day on the hill allowing plenty of time for coffee and cakes in Glen Coe Cafe.
The next day saw similar conditions and a report for worsening weather in the afternoon so we settled on Dinnertime Buttress on the west face of Aonach Dubh. It is another route low on the mountain with a steep but short walk in from the road. It turned out to be a really nice route under firm snow and offered a couple of interesting sections near the top.
Once on the top we navigated our way into the lower section of Stob Coire nan Lochan from where we walked out to the road. We could see the main crag was well plastered in snow but a few brave souls were making their way up in the hope of getting something done.
The forecast for our last full day was looking good and the avalanche risk had reduced significantly. We were up and away early, and in the North Face car park of the Ben before 7.30am.
The plan was to get up to the CIC hut and assess the conditions, before making a decision on what would be a feasible objective. On reaching the hut Ledge Route seemed like the best option so off we went.
On the approach we could see climbers on The Curtain, one of the best known ice routes on the Ben. I had been on Ledge Route twice before and given the opportunity was keen to do a route I had not done before. John volunteered to join me so off we went while the others continued on to Ledge Route.
It is a fantastic climb with lots of exposure, especially on the upper section where the ice gets quite steep. A second 60m rope and a few more ice screws would have been helpful, especially as I had to bypass the first belay due to it being occupied.
We caught up with Maeve and Gerard who had gotten stuck in a queue behind a number of large guided groups. We continued to the top of Ledge Route together, from where Maeve, John and I continued on to the Summit as it was Maeve’s first time on the Mountain.
The last day being wet and windy was spent in the Ice Factor, where Maeve and Seamus climbed on the ice wall and Gerard, Mike and John spent the morning on the indoor climbing wall, while I sat in a comfy chair drinking coffee and reading climbing magazines. Then in the afternoon it was down the road to the airport and home.