5th March 2020
Felt a little like being in quarantine here at Creag Meagaidh today. Apart from a handful of vehicles in the main car park, didn’t see a soul.
(Above) Ski tour up the Creag Mhor ridge today. Visibility was poor above about 900m but there were a few photo opportunities when the skies cleared briefly. Looking SW down towards Loch Laggan with its artificially created reservoir end to the right. Great snow cover! For this particular ski tour you’ll carry your skis to above 450m and shortly thereafter you’ll find excellent cover – best on the east-facing side of glens running N to S.
(Above) A view of the east facing side of Coire Choile Rais from the Creag Mhor ridge. See what I mean about the snow cover! Shot of Meall Coire Choile Rais (1027m) and Coire Choile Rais itself over on the right. Its wonderful and infrequently visited lochan is just out of sight over the nearest snowy sky line, which is at 800m.
(Above) A full depth avalanche on the ESE face of Beinn Sgiath at 820m above Glen Markie. This one was about 50m wide and ran out 200m. Looks like were getting to that time of year when these become an issue in our area. Noticed glide cracks opening on the E face of Sron a Ghoire, too, just below 800m.
Full depth avalanches don’t figure in our calculation of avalanche hazard. They’re just too capricious a phenomenon and therefore difficult, if not impossible, to forecast. Needless to say, we have a lot of snow in places where they normally occur at Creag Meagaidh (mainly very steep, selected E to ESE aspects) so best factor this into your mountain day travel plans, at least for the time being.
A further complication to your mountain day is the Moderate avalanche hazard in tomorrow’s forecast.
Worldwide stats show that most avalanches involving people occur during Moderate hazard conditions.
Think about that for a minute.
After 10 consecutive days of Considerable hazard at Creag Meagaidh, the hazard has been changed to Moderate. Yes, the snow is starting to consolidate in most places but Moderate hazard is not the ‘green light’ after more than a week of ‘red light’. The avalanche hazard scale is certainly not a simple traffic light system.
There’ll be people itching to get out there but we still have areas of concern (see the report/forecast for details) and they will persist for a little while yet. We’re not anticipating naturally released avalanches (apart from, possibly, full depth ones, & forecasting them is a crap shoot) but a large cornice collapse could trigger a slope. And we have some large cornices! To quote, ‘human triggered avalanches are possible‘ – see the avalanche hazard scale for the full text.
You need to pay more attention when it’s a Moderate, not less, since instability is more nuanced. Think carefully about your route selection.
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