Pobol y Cwm
26th February 2016
(Above) The main Coire Ardair path today. It’s been some time since we’ve had snowfall but the path is still a bit of a graunch as you have to peg along in the deep footprints of those who went before…and there haven’t been many. Path does improve a little bit further along. Skis or snow shoes are definitely advantageous if you have plans to venture away from the path.
(Above) Carn Liath plateau snow cover. Looking from near Carn Liath to the Min Window (upper right of shot). Great cover! Doing the round on skis is definitely on. Hasn’t been this good for some time. A bit easier travel here if you’re just foot soldiering as it’s scoured and crusty but firm and softer as well – quite a variety of surfaces.
(Above) Pobol y Cwm (translation: people of the valley. The title of a long running and very popular Welsh-speaking TV ‘soap’ – a bit like Coronation Street but with more words beginning with double L) Plas y Brenin, the well known national mountaineering centre in North Wales, are here in numbers at the moment. Impressively evenly spaced snow holes in a re-entrant off the Carn Liath plateau (a wee bit of a military influence, methinks…). The centre one definitely has a Kevin McLeod (he of ‘Grand Designs’ fame) flourish: gable ended roof thing over the front entrance and a ‘big statement’ elevated staircase. Very aspirational! Actually the site was left totally devoid of any rubbish, litter or other “mess”. Kudos to the Brenin!
(Above) Anachronistic gate on the slopes between Na Cnapanan and Carn Liath. Evidence of an old, long and long-gone fence that made its way up from near Aberarder to somewhere over the crest of the plateau and into the Upper Spey. I always try to open the gate when I pass and leave it open to see if anyone closes it, and each time I return it’s closed again! There are definitely some OCD types amongst you…..
(Above) Sron a Ghoire with debris from the large avalanche early on the 22nd Feb. A bit of firnspiegel developed on the surface of these sun-exposed slopes later in the day. Photo doesn’t show it well but the firnspiegel shone and was quite glossy in sunlight.
Finally, something on stability and hazard at the moment. The prolonged cold spell has preserved instability in the snowpack (see the report for locations) but it is being bridged over by quite dense snow. The weak layers are shearing readily and cleanly and as the dense snow is supportive – bridging over the weak layers – it will bear some weight before failing. The upshot of this is that if the loading is sufficient the tensile strength of the slab will fail quickly and the failure will propagate. If it breaks it’s likely to break wide and deep. We’re unlikely to see any natural (untriggered) avalanches right now but since the start of February there have been 17 avalanches in the Scottish Highlands triggered by and involving humans.
Have a great week-end but take care out there.
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