In the second of a series of articles about the finest Scottish winter routes, Jöttnar's Mike Pescod guides us through Number Three Gully Buttress, Ben Nevis.
Number Three Gully Buttress, Ben Nevis
In January we hope to see a reasonable cover of snow building up and some thaw freeze cycles to consolidate the snow into solid neve. The days are still short though and January can be pretty stormy with lots of fresh snowfall, so you’ve got be on your toes.
At grade III, Number Three Gully Buttress has a lot of varied climbing in a fantastic position. Right at the top of Coire na Ciste on Ben Nevis there is a steep slope to get to the start of it which will test your fitness and avalanche awareness too. The first pitch is on ice to a reasonable rock anchor, followed by a few pitches on snow leading up and right. Finding good belay points on this can be tricky but you can also go more directly up and right if you are feeling adventurous. Follow your nose up some grooves and corners and you will find continuous grade III climbing that leads directly to the crux rock step.
The crux is a wee rock step that lands you on an exposed shelf, very high above the coire floor. The rightward trending line continues in an ever more spectacular position with Number Three Gully tucked a long way down under your feet.
No.3 Gully Buttress Original Route 125m III***
L.S. Lovat and D.J. Bennet, 18th February 1957
Climb up into the large snow bay below the prow of the buttress. From the top of the bay traverse delicately right to a platform, then follow grooves rightwards to a steep direct corner finish or traverse up rightwards. The upper part of the route is magnificently exposed. Much variation is possible with more direct lines to the platform and from here to the top.
Mike Pescod is an IFMGA guide, and a member of Jöttnar's Pro Team. He is the founder of Abacus Mountain Guides, an outdoor guiding company based in Fort William, as well as being the author of the guidebook Winter Climbs Ben Nevis and Glen Coe.