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Below the Great Tower of Tower Ridge
Photo by archivio Mike Pescod
A rare day on the summit of Ben Nevis
Photo by archivio Mike Pescod
Ben Nevis - general topography and the main climbs
Photo by archivio Mike Pescod

Ben Nevis winter climbing: Point Five Gully and Tower Ridge

04.01.2014 by Mike Pescod

Quintessential winter climbing in Scotland: Ben Nevis and the classic routes Point Five Gully and Tower Ridge introduced by the Mountain Guide Mike Pescod.

Scottish winter climbing is world renowned for its adventure and quality of experience. Nowhere is it better than on Ben Nevis, the peaks of Glen Coe and the surrounding mountains.

The traditional approach to climbing is strongly maintained here, and the history of the climbs is well remembered. Modern ice climbing was developed here, and that heritage adds greatly to the modern-day climbing experience.

In the winter of 1960 Jimmy Marshall and Robin Smith completed the most significant week of climbing ever achieved in Scotland. Orion Direct, Smith’s Route, Minus Two Gully and the first single-day free ascent of Point Five Gully were amongst the seven climbs they completed on consecutive days. All of this was achieved with a single ice axe each and crampons with no front points.

Ten years later, in 1970, Yvon Chouinard made a brief visit which was to trigger a change that would revolutionise winter climbing. Using prototype curved ice hammers he made some very fast ascents, demonstrating how to climb ice by direct aid, hanging off the pick itself embedded in the ice. Comparing techniques with John Cunningham, Hamish MacInnes and many others in the Clachaig one night, modern ice climbing was born.

Winter climbers will find routes of all types and grades on the cliffs of Ben Nevis. From the popular route of Point Five Gully, to Tower Ridge, a classic ascent on Ben Nevis, offering a great experience in both summer and winter conditions

Name
Grade
Length
Point Five Gully
V,5
325m
A justifiably popular route, often in condition and the benchmark grade V,5 from which all other steep snow-ice gully climbs are graded.

Tower Ridge
IV,3
500m di dislivello, 1000m di via
This, the most famous of the great Nevis ridges, is a magnificent expedition. It is technically easier than the North East Buttress and Observatory Ridge, but it should not be underrated. The main difficulties are concentrated high up, and the whole route is exceptionally long and arduous, fully justifying its grade of IV.


BIBLIOGRAPHY
Winter Climbs Ben Nevis and Glen Coe describes over 900 routes, guaranteed to keep even the most active climbers busy for many years. Written by Mike Pescod, with a decade of experience as a full time mountain guide in this area, there’s no shortage of expertise either.

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    Via stupenda, gradi stretti e numerosi passaggi obbligatori, ...
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