The previous 2 winter seasons I have been sidelined with my ongoing foot injury, and the other year I didn't climb up there was due to the superb Welsh winter, no need for the 11hr round trip!
Anyway, I teamed up with Dan as usual, and we opted to climb, 'Good Friday Climb', dependant on the condition of Observatory gully. On arrival at the base of OG a few teams were already heading up and a nice track was in place. The snow was fairly deep, but not so much slab. The only slab we encountered was on the traverse in to Indicator wall from OG where care needed to be taken.
With a good forecast it was obviously busy, and teams were also on, Indicator wall, Smiths route, Tower Scoop, Point 5, Tower ridge, Ledge route and the Castle gully's, with plenty heading up into the Cieste as we passed.
We got 4 pitches out of Good Friday, but protection was incredibly sparse. The gear placements were hard to find under powder, and also well chocked with ice, think 6 or 7 pieces went in on the whole route, with a couple of 25-30m run-out's!
The 1st pitch was deep powder for the 1st 20m or so, then fairly good neve, upto a good ice screw belay on the right just beneath the vertical wall.
The 2nd pitch was the crux, which had a couple of pieces of gear, but the ice was poor to pull over the crux ice step. This led to a belay on the left.
The 3rd pitch was very run out. 1 runner in a 45m pitch! And the final short pitch was straight forward over a small cornice.
Dan enjoying seconding the 1st pitch
A good day out, and good to be swinging the axes once more!!