We opted for the banker of Ben Nevis, the mountain that just keeps on giving. And again it didn't disappoint. My heart initially sunk as from the hut you could see Coire na Ciste was pretty black. We headed up Observatory Gully jokingly hoping for a cold pocket hiding conditions. As we gained height we gradually ticked off option 1, 2 and 3 before being pleasantly surprised to find the wall above Echo Wall on the Upper East Flank of Tower Ridge have a light coating of whiteness. We opted for righthand of two prominent leftward slanting slabby groove lines (the lefthand one is the summer route Rolling Stones. Iain's initial pitch revealed a surprisingly and highly helpful coating of inch thick ice over all the ledges and slabs. The Ben was doing its magic once again.
Two highly enjoyable pitches, the first well protected, the second run out led steadily to a big snow ledge. From here we traversed left to a steep groove that had begged to be climbed from below. This proved to be significantly harder than anything below. It reminded me of an iced up Migrant Direct only steeper and bolder but luckily half the length. Never the less there was potential for a 40ft ledge fall from some hard insecure moves. The state of the ice will make a difference here but only whether the moves are 7 or 8. Committing to poor "pulling through snow ice" hooks less than an inch deep with my crampons on quarter inch verglas on the overhanging walls I remember thinking this wasn't a married mans pitch. I was also aware that my arms were luckily in good nick after all the recent training. A few screams were still needed to clear the final bulge. Excitedly I announced to Iain that this was my 9th new route on the Ben, he replied it was his 3rd this week! For me this route had been a real Faith Healer. What a mountain. The two Ians/Iains on the summit plateau The line of Faith Healer.
First Ascent Iain Small, Ian Parnell 28 Jan 2010