A glimpse of light.
2nd March 2020
(Above) ‘Slow, Dead Slow, Stop, & Reverse’. Came across a group of 13 (Snow-holers, I think, judging by rucsac size, but pure speculation) labouring up the sidewall of Coire Ardair through deep moist snow in the lower reaches. Hard yakka, that, chaps. They’d ploughed an impressive trench up the main Coire Ardair path and then diverted up towards the Carn Liath plateau. Perhaps en route to the now well documented snow hole site in what we call Shark’s Fin Gully? (Uinneag Coire a Chaorainn, if you’re a Gaelic purist). We have a lot of snow and more or less complete cover above 450m.
(Above) There are a fair number of large cornices above most steep lee slopes at the moment, most of them really very fragile and prone to sudden collapse. This one is about 3.5m high and forms a barrier across the main Coire Ardair track at 560m. As I said, we have a lot of snow!
(Above) A fair number of avalanches today. I counted seven, six in this coire – Coire Chriochairein. Very poor stability overnight last night and during the morning then right through into the early afternoon. This is a steep ENE aspect and shows debris from two recent events, one triggered by a large cornice collapse – centre of photo. A few glimpses of sunshine pierced the prevailing misty whiteness.
(Above) Atmospheric shot across the SE shoulder/ridge of Coire Chriochairein towards Bellevue Buttress. Fairly typical view of the snow cover we have on lee slopes above 700m. I got a brief and somewhat misty view of the Post Face in upper Coire Ardair which looked, unsurprisingly, buried by snow. This shot was taken about a minute before a dry slab avalanche released in the top right corner of the photo.
(Above) 1235hrs. Drifting recommenced and a size 1.5 dry slab avalanche released. Two lobes of debris can just be seen appearing just below the shadow, slightly left of centre of the shot. Drifting continued for an hour or two longer today.
(Above) Having had a bit of a technical/mechanical meltdown of gear yesterday (inducing a hissy fit..no details, that would be just too much information) it was great to make good progress on skis. Yes, there is still some trail-breaking in deeper snow but if you pick lightly scoured slopes, like here, then it’s possible to cover quite a bit of ground. The view out of Coire Chriochairein back towards Aberarder.
(Above) The view down to lower Coire Ardair, across the tumbled down wall (see a recent blog posting for deets), towards Aberarder and Loch Laggan. First time in many, many years I was able to make a more or less unbroken long descending traverse (2.5km, give or take) down to meet the main path after the mature birch trees. Hardly a record that but it does demonstrate pretty well the extent of our snow cover. The snow gets a bit moist & cruddy below 650m so you’ll need to deploy your best ‘combat skiing’ techniques for the last kilometre or so. Oh! And watch out for the partially buried boulders after the mature birch. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Avalanche hazard more or less unchanged for tomorrow, Tuesday, although the period of poorest stability is expected to be overnight tonight, Monday/Tuesday.
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