The weather has been quite fine and settled this last few days. Fresh snow fell several days ago putting between 2 and 10 inches of new snow on top of the surface hore crystals that were prevalent all over the NW on many aspects. A pit dug on a SW aspect on Ben Wyvis showed the fresh snow on top of this unstable layer but also some interesting things happening near the base of the snow pack with deph hore and faceted crystals and an older deep icy layer all adding to the unstable picture.
The temp rose yesterday by about 9 deg during the day and small, localised slips were noted on Northern aspects. We climbed a new line on Beinn Alligin near Torridon finding excellent conditions. Our line, The Christening, was to the right of the new Webb / Richardson line which takes the ridge to the right of Diamond fire (which looked in good condition). My new axes got a christening and fun was had by all.
This long period of sustained cold has resulted in some very interesting routes getting done in the NW including the second ascent of the summer E2 Marathon Corner up on Ben Loyal (sp?) and possibly a new hard line on Beinn Bhan, but i don't know for sure.
The rise in temp this weekend will give a period of instability in the snow pack but it will cause the ice to grow rapidly in places and the forecast next week talks of warm days and cold nights; perfect for spring ice climbing. This should help form up the high altitude routes on Ben Nevis.
I have included a picture of Deep South Gully on Alligin taken yesterday as someone wanted info on it.