Me and Dave had joined Ian for mine and Dave's first Scottish Winter on the Ben. We set off on the Sunday and arrived late for a good Bivi at the North Face car park. We set off at sevenish on the Sunday and were at the CIC hut for around . We chose Green Gully for our first winter route and a delicate traverse led to the bottom of the snow slopes. We kitted up and I set out, up the slope, first. I was wandering up, with a rope over my shoulder, when I noticed the snow had changed slightly.
I was only a few metres from the bottom of the route though, so continued. My axe placement slid and then I noticed the other axe had as well, then I realised the whole slope in front of me had moved. The next thing I remember was flying towards Dave and Ian as the wave of snow took them out, clipping Dave’s crampon with my groin. I realised the slide was lasting a long time and becoming serious so I took action to try and surface. I remembered the old 'swim in to it' theory. Just as I started the 'front crawling' I ceased to move. I shook myself and stood up. Ian was facing up the slope- about ten metres up from me shouting my name. Dooge was another 50 metres up looking down in an odd gaze. I replied to Ian’s shouts and he rotated in surprised. He must have presumed I was buried. I lost my axes in the slide, despite looking for a couple of hours. Being involved in a minor avalanche, taking my mates out shall make me very avalanche aware for the rest of my climbing career.
This unfortunate event meant I sat out climbing for a couple of days. Dave then let me borrow his axes and I got up to Point Five with Ian. The first tricky IV/V pitches soon lead to some nice but tiring III pitches to the top. Ian led the first couple of pitches and we moved together on the rest. The crux pitch was in brilliant condition, which meant it wasn't the crux pitch. Beautiful setting and an exhilarating route. It was my first Munro and first winter climb, a great tick.
The next day Ian and Dave went for a VI variation on Smiths route. They climbed the first 6 pitch with relative ease, but then they moved on to the grade 5 finish. Dave fell seconding, ripping out an ice screw of Ian’s belay. This shocked Ian who lost control of the body belay letting Dave fall 150ftish to the deck. Dave was reet, but Ian broke his hand slowing him down. Ian’s wind shirt and rope burns are testimony to what he did to try and save Dooge.
With no driver me and Dave have been forced to bivy in the hospital car park until Ian's parents turned up to drive us home. This was a three day epic, hiding from doctors and searching Glen Nevis for a sub-£10 Hostel. This does not exist.
The trip was finished with a fine trip to Polldubh. A few classics bagged including Dave's ascent of the great Clapham Junction.
Dooge showing his sigg that undoubtably saved his spine on his many bounces down Smith's route