Conditions were amazing, with good weather every day, and 'full' Scottish conditions on more than one occasion. Last time we were out, there were whisperings of a rescue on the Ben... but not this time!
It was a perfect chance to test out gear and systems, and a couple of lessons were learned.
The primacy of the tricam as the king of gear was re-established, and a few of us got to use pegs for the first time (very handy for when you're bricking it).
Cornices are evil and can only be negotiated with a combination of tunneling and swimming.
Dubious gear is still gear, although the only thing it protects may be your state of mind (briefly). And ski-goggles and face protection are a must to prevent hot aches in the face.
Old school woolly mitts and jumpers as well as pile jackets work whatever the winter weather, and hand hot aches are something that has to be tolerated!
And of course, sometimes the right thing to do is turn back and admit defeat rather than push on in unideal conditions, time and confidence.
We discussed a menu for the expedition and some basic inventory, something we're going to look into more in the next while.
We also learned that Vladimir once got lost in the Caucasus for three days with nowt but a tin of dried milk and a jerrycan of petrol, and was rescued by a beekeeper...
Anyways, some of the routes that got done included Twisting Gully (III 4) and Raeburn's Route (IV 4) on Stob Coire Nan Lochan, Left Twin (III 3), Aquafresh (IV 4), White Shark (IV 4) at Aonach Mór, North Buttress (IV 4) and Curved Ridge (II) on Buachaille Etive Mór and Castle Ridge (III 3) and an abortive attempt on Northeast Buttress (IV 4) on Ben Nevis that had to be bandoned because the entrance chimney was in horrible mixed condition.
All in all a great week, and great practice. There's a chance of some snow in Ireland now as well. Here's hoping!