Stormy Obervatory Ridge

On February 22, 2014 by Tim Neill
From THE book

From THE book


Yesterday morning (Feb 21st) I climbed up this with my friend Simon. As the day before had been so grim we were keen to see what damage had been done and we had a list of possibles given the fierce forecast….

The avalanche forecast was clearly well out (by 2 solid bands) within 1o mins from the car. The lowest ice had gone (first pitches on Carn Dearg) and the forecast freezing level out by possibly 4oom too.

We geared up in an unlocked CIC hut, thinking of a consolation on the icy Douglas Boulder or below NE Buttress but mostly scoured snow allowed us to approach the Observatory Ridge from directly below…aware of the avalanche track down the big gully to the right. 2 fast long pitches had us finding the summit shelter by trailing our rope between us and snagging it (not in the text book), then re validating our Winter MLs navigating off the plateau. A good reminder of the challenge of heavy snow and gale/storm force winds.

Anyway, lovely climbing up a pristine alpine snow crest after a bit of interesting climbing low down…but no photos due to the epic weather.

Low down on the Orion Face looks promising as does the Minus Face. Some of the lower routes on the West Face of Observ Ridge will be good too….but high up you are climbing on bottomless rime. N Face routes of Castle Ridge will be a good punt as well?! Stacks of blue ice at mid height in the Ciste. Shroud still massive too. After the current thaw a refreeze will bring some more good options for Ben Ice enthusiasts.

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