Creag Meagaidh Winter 2011/12 round up.
8th April 2012
Below is a brief round up of snow stability and avalanche activity in our area for the winter of 2011/12. It’s been a pretty meagre winter – at least for those who like their winters to be cold and snowy – so I have broken up the text with a selection of photos from the past few years just to remind you how good a proper winter season can be at Creag Meagaidh.
Above. A snowy walk-in to the business end of Coire Ardair
Total of 27 avalanches were recorded in our area, though some single entries are for multiple events in a relatively small area, so approximate total is 30.
(NB. This takes no account of avalanches that occurred but not reported. Remote and difficult to get to locations in our area – the Moy Corrie and the Upper Roy in particular – may have had avalanches but these would not have been recorded. Protracted poor weather can also lead to under-reporting on Beinn a Chaorainn and the upper reaches of Coire Ardair where deep snow can preclude access for several days.)
Wherever categories are mentioned in the text it is for the report not the forecast ie. actual conditions.
Avalanche season at Meggie started with an avalanche on 2nd December possibly triggered by a member of a group of 3 winter mountaineers. A run of NW winds and heavier snowfall for a week in mid-December resulted in widespread new snow instability and one recorded avalanche on the 18th. A much milder, moist SW airflow followed this with avalanche activity on 21st and 22nd initiated by the rapid transition to mild, wet conditions. Remained mild until the end of the month when there was a brief period of heavy snow on 29th/30th with avalanches on 31st as the weather again turned mild and wet.
Above. “A short cut back to the road” after a day on Beinn a Chaorainn. Got totally lost in the forest very close to the A86 but stumbled through deep snow into this glade….not such a bad day after all.
Weather and avalanche activity was significantly variable in January. 1st to 5th saw more significant snowfall immediately followed by rain and avalanche activity. Exact same weather/avalanche pattern for the 6th-8th. Relatively lengthy period of stability from 9th to 18th then more snow and avalanches (on 19th & 22nd) after this date with a run of Considerable categories issued up to 23rd. Rain again with transitional avalanches on 25th. Penultimate avalanche cycle of the month was on 27th (after cross-loading on some of Beinn a Chaorainn’s corries) coinciding with much colder weather, snow and Northerly winds. January ended generally dry but very cold with early faceting noted in snowpits.
Above. Pretty much full cover in Coire Ardair in Feb 2010
Very cold temperatures and a thin snowpack characterised early February. Facet development was widespread but only limited hazard noted due to the relatively modest overburden on the lingering weak layer. Heavy snow on 4th with further drifting on 5th set up an avalanche cycle with a sizeable event recorded in Easy Gully (attributed to 5th or 6th Feb). From 7th onwards 10 days of mild temps and much better stability. An active avalanche cycle after snowfall (with graupel) from 18th to 21st with early new snow avalanches and transitional activity later as the weather turned mild and wet. 22nd onwards was mild and generally moist with a strengthening trend in the snowpack.
Little new snowfall apart from 7th/8th March when there was some loose snow avalanche activity as snow turned to rain. Diminishing snowpack for the rest of the period with Low or occasional Moderate categories issued. Week-end reports and forecasts only after 19th of March. Early April snowfall was modest at Creag Meagaidh though there was significantly more precipitation immediately east of our area.
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