ol’ snake eyes is back…
15th February 2015
Pretty atmospheric ‘welcome’ to Creag Meagaidh in the main car park this morning. Crownwall at 770m on a SE aspect.
Full depth avalanche on Sron a Ghoire visible from Adverikie Estate office on the A86.
Evolution of a full depth avalanche: 4th February. Glide cracks just opening and visible. Crownwall and runout track marked in colour.
Timeline: 8th February. Glide cracks wider and evidence of buckling on the downstream slab.
Timeline: 12th February. Glide cracks & buckling now much more developed. Future stauchwall apparent at the bottom of the slab.
Timeline: 15th February. A size 3.5 full depth avalanche. 120m crownwall 1m to 3.5m deep, running out 300m.
Big blocky debris
Debris tip 5m high in places in the runout zone. Rucksac and ski poles for scale. Some blocks three m3.
Glacial-like striations. Photo doesn’t capture actual scale especially well! Big block right of centre with black marking is 2m cubed.
Looking upwards to the crownwall from the toe of the debris.
Sister full depth avalanche-in-waiting on Sron a Ghoire: less than 50m away from today’s event and not yet released at the time of writing.
Full depth avalanche on a SE aspect of Beinn Sgiath above Glen Markie nr. Laggan. Estimate release at same time as Sron a Ghoire event.
An interesting day at the office! Still some hangfire potential at the Sron a Ghoire and Beinn Sgiath avalanche sites – some very large blocks/slabs poised to slide above the present crownwalls. The Sron a Ghoire avalanche ran out across the usual walkers’ ascent/descent route on this popular mountain.
Comments on this post
16th February 2015 9:00 am
Thank you for giving us this photographic history of the full depth slide. Your blogs are outstanding in that they are not just daily photos ,but have,explanations and links that help us learn. Another set of photos that I will use at school. Thanks ! Helen
16th February 2015 9:33 am
Pleased you find the sequence useful, Helen.
Many thanks for your comment.
16th February 2015 9:47 am
Fabulous explanation and photos, seems like Creag Meagaidh is the place to be for avalanche activity in Scotland this year! Your blog is making a really interesting story as this winter evolves, keep up the good work!
16th February 2015 10:02 am
Creag Meagaidh is certainly well-known for it’s avalanches. 15 yrs ago then was some number-crunching done and it transpired that if you were unfortunate enough to be avalanched in Scotland, statistically it would have been in ‘Cinderella’, the grade 2 gully in the Inner Coire of Coire Ardair!
Sometimes it does feel as though ‘Meggie is ‘Avalanches-R-us’.
Many thanks for your generous comment.
16th February 2015 6:10 pm
Echo the previous comments. Your blog gets better year on year.
16th February 2015 6:17 pm
Great sequence, as others have said.
A question: What are the striations carved in? — ground that’s had all veg and stones stripped off it, or a veneer of snow well bonded to the ground and over which the avalanche ran?
16th February 2015 7:46 pm
Thanks for your question and interest.
Had a careful look at the bed-surface of the avalanche yesterday and the striations are definitely carved into snow. I’m sure the grooved snowy bed-surface shown in the photo is pre-existing old snow that was compressed and abraded as the debris passed over it. The avalanche entrained quite a lot of peaty soil, heather and a few rocks. The photos don’t show the scale at all well but the striations lie in the bottom of a channel about 2m deep formed by walls of avalanche debris, with a sort of ‘medial moraine’-type central ridge – though formed mainly of avalanche debris plus a little peat & heather etc..
Let me know if you need further info. I have many more photos of the aftermath of the avalanche that may be of interest.
16th February 2015 7:57 pm
Excellent blog. I miss the excitement of that job a lot, but don’t miss the days of rain & no snow when you’ve still got to tred the boardwalk!
I do wonder, with these full depths & obvious creep lines for many days beforehand, if deliberately triggering them would reduce the chance of visitors being caught in them. I’m sure you’d have great fun triggering them…..
16th February 2015 9:22 pm
Ian, you are a legend and well-remembered in these parts! Great that you’re in touch again. Last I heard you were up in the northern isles working for the RSPB, but I’m years out of date.
The boardwalk is history now. There’s an excellent well made path – without nightmare boulders or greasy & lethal old railway sleepers – all the way from the farmhouse at Aberarder to just beyond the lochan. The incessant rain doesn’t change though!
Interesting that you float the idea of control work to clear potential avalanche hazard. Many, many years ago in the Cairngorms there were apocryphal stories of discreet control work being carried out using ‘backcountry bombs’ (large cornices cut with 20m of knotted accessory cord…allegedly..) to clear gullies and steep scarp slopes of unstable snow
and the odd climber or twothough for some reason the practice was frowned upon.
We also received a mailshot back then from the people who make the ‘Avalauncher’ air cannon, a piece of compressed air powered artillery capable of delivering a round of explosive ordnance to a target 2km away. A proper ‘big boy’s’ toy but very expensive at Â£15,000 (ammunition extra) in old money. However, its ‘blind-firing’ capability meant that it would be just possible to selectively hit any target from Jacobs Ladder to the Trident Gullies at any time of day or night whilst sipping cappuchino at the Shieling in Coire Cas. Can’t think why the idea was shelved…
Seriously, the use of explosives for control work in our comparatively crowded mountains, away from ski areas, is riven with safety and environmental issues. The landowners, including the RSPB and SNH, would have a lot to say about it and in essence would be totally unfeasable.
(Next time we have a prolonged full depth avalanche problem at ‘Meggie we’ll get in touch and you can come up and have first dibs jumping up and down on the middle of the slab whilst we record the occasion for posterity on video….preferably from 2km away sat comfortably sipping cappuchino..)
17th February 2015 12:02 pm
I was thinking more like Apocalypse Now. Fly down the glen in a suitable helicopter, drop a few charges in prime locations and zip off to enjoy the view. What music to choose though? Surely SNH could marshal the site to keep walkers, climbers & skiers out of harms way?
Sadly I am now stuck in the lowlands of East Anglia but do tread the Scottish hills on a frequent basis. I may pop by in early March to darken the door once more.