Walkin’ the dog.
13th March 2020
Full disclosure: I’m not a dog owner. The Apprentice, who occasionally features on the blog, is unleashed onto the hill by my back-to-back SAIS forecasting partner, Seamus O’Avalanche. However, today came across a couple exercising two fine looking hounds up and down Sron a Ghoire. But this was no ordinary dog walk.
(Above) A couple exercising their dogs. I’m pretty sure on this occasion that this (very fit & determined) couple were more exercised than the hounds. They footpacked all the way up from the car park in their soft boots with snowboards on their backs. Their mission? Up through, often deep, untracked snow to the summit of Sron a Ghoire’s NE ridge at 820m. They were slow up hill, not surprisingly, given the underfoot conditions. Even I overtook them on the way up on my skis and I’m definitely no racing snake! The dogs came over to sniff me out, of course, and super-fit they looked, too. Saw the couple cruise down a little later. Would like to say that the dogs were trailing behind in the ‘rooster tails’ of snow coming off the snowboards but it wasn’t that sort of snow today! Good effort all round. Well done one & all.
(Above) That melt event was followed by a overnight frost giving the snow a thin crust below about 550m – seen here. Much better snow above 700m where it has accumulated into new drifts, though there was also some hard, icy scoured areas as well.
(Above) A wind created feature above the Bealach a Ghoire at 850m which we sometimes use for formal snow observations. Big contrast in snow conditions here: sintered etched snow on the right and bullet hard exposed neve on the left of the ski tracks. Very pleasant ski touring up high today in stellar overhead conditions.
(Above) The jewel in the crown. The car park was pretty busy today but didn’t spot anyone on the crags in upper Coire Ardair. Everything looks a bit buried + there’s the objective danger presented by the snow. Complicated stability picture: better stability where the sun had done its work but significantly worse in heavily shaded places.
(Above) Detailed shot of the Inner Coire of Coire Ardair and ‘The Window’. Stability in those steep and heavily shaded N to NE aspects was poor today. There was a huge temperature gradient through the upper layers of the snowpack in similar locations and some weak facetted crystals were present supporting a stiffer near surface slab. Crack propagation was long and sudden where tested on moderately steep terrain. Pretty sure there’d be no natural avalanches today but you’d definitely trigger something in those suspect steep slopes. The walkers in the photo are giving the run out zone below the shaded crags a sensible wide berth. Note the cornices, too.
(Above) Size 1 dry slab avalanche debris on a steep E aspect of Sron a Ghoire from Friday. This one ran out about 100m. The crownwall will have filled in quite quickly since drifting continued for most of yesterday.
(Above) The view East from high on Sron a Ghoire across the end of Loch Laggan toward the western Cairngorms. The eagle-eyed amongst you will be able to identify Braeriach, The Angel’s Peak and Cairn Toul on the far skyline. Coire Garbhlach in Glen Feshie is also visible.
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