Today I climbed Italian Right-Hand (IV,4) on Ben Nevis with Stephan Mors. While we’d been hoping that Harrison’s Climb Direct (same grade) on Carn Dearg might be in, what we could see of it looked quite bare and unformed as we walked past so the search for another route was on. And Italian Right-Hand proved to be a good choice on the day with its north-westerly aspect being diametrically opposed to the wide south-easterly danger zone suggested by the SAIS Lochaber forecast and not too much cruddy snow to contend with when the Italian Climb area is also noted for avalanche danger in some conditions. Be warned, however, that it’s much longer than the guidebook 150m if followed (as it should be) to the crest of Tower Ridge, and we took six pitches of alternating leads (of which at least three were 55m+) to reach the top. So I got the first and Stephan got the big Right-Hand pitch, but there was something of interest on every pitch amongst much easier ground and quite a spicy mixed finish by the route we took up the last section to the crest. After which we descended Tower Ridge rather than finish upwards, but found this really quite time-consuming under surprisingly heavy snow cover.
Dunno what was done elsewhere on the Ben, but Vanishing Gully, Italian Climb (normal route), Garadh Gully and Glover’s Chimney certainly all saw ascents.
PS (2 February)… just got some photos from Stephan to augment my solitary shot (not uploaded before), so here we go. Nothing too dramatic because most of the best action shots weren’t options when safeguarding the other climber, dodging spindrift or both, but you can see me topping out from the RH pitch and leading higher up towards the ridge (think the ‘book’ route goes left there, but I chose the steeper, less heavily-laden slopes) and the pair of us preparing to abseil from the last level section of Tower Ridge towards Observatory Gully in snowly [sic.] deteriorating visibility.