Reading the runes

19th December 2013

(Above) Kingussie this morning: the shed where Badenoch & Strathspey’s gritting trucks reload with road salt.

Minor roof avalanche after snowfall at 250m above sea level. May mean nothing if you’re going out on the hill for some winter sport but it might be a low-grade stability clue. Info like this can help build the ‘big picture’ of what the snow may be like nearby & higher up. Could be redundant info but might be really meaningful, a lot depends on other stability clues you pick up in preparing for – and on your approach – to the hill.

(Above) The path up Coire Ardair at 400m a little later. Plenty of fresh snow and snowfall. Don’t know what stability will be like yet but it will almost certainly be declining on lee slopes somewhere…somewhere higher up.
(Above) Shark’s Fin Gully at 930m just off the Carn Liath plateau.

Snowing, blowing and drifting at one of our favoured pit sites that’s a good analogue for places like Easy Gully & ‘Cinderella’. …..and the ‘big picture’ now complete.

Shark’s Fin Gully is a relatively safe & very good snow sampling spot with a long fetch so drifting and slab build up can be impressive here. We found very many easy shears in deepening new slab as well as an interesting temperature gradient (though a bit too early for facetting at the moment…though watch this space!).

Reading the avalanche ‘runes’ is often very simple, it just requires paying attention to often quite low grade but obvious signs nature presents to us.

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