…..and breathe….

8th February 2016

Not such nice conditions of late – culminating with ‘The full Scottish’ yesterday (Sunday) and blizzard conditions on the tops whilst soaked to the underpants from horizontal rain at the bottom!

Finally the wind & rain stopped and the sun came out – if only briefly!

Coire nan Gall

Coire nan Gall

First glimpse of the ‘propsects’ for the day from the A86 near Kinloch Laggan on the drive to Creag Meagaidh

Coire nan Gall - on closer inspection (under full new winter mantle)

Coire nan Gall – on closer inspection, again from the A86 (revealed  under a full new winter raiment)

Hmmmm – perhaps not!…..our chosen venue each day can be something of a movable beast.

An academic paper risk assessment to start our day takes into consideration  overnight weather, current and pre-existing conditions, available personnel etc and from this a theoretic venue for a ‘best’ place to visit is made –  in reality flexibility is the name of the game and  it’s often not until feet get on the ground before a final picture of ‘best’ is formed.

Coire Ardair - NW aspects

Coire Ardair – NW aspects

An hour or so later – small debris trails from recent loose snow slides at around 800m

Coire a Chriochairein

Coire a Chriochairein

Easterly aspects. These following recent avalanche activity were of some interest for today’s pit site (and more importantly for pit digging – in the sun!)

Numerous roller balls on sun affected E & SE facing aspects today

Numerous roller balls on sun affected E & SE facing aspects today

In the main these roller balls are usually fairly small – although at certain times and  in certain locations they can be sizable & big enough to constitute a reasonable hazard….

Today's pit site with a safe travel consideration line shown in green

Today’s pit site with a safe travel consideration line shown in green

As events transpired conditions underfoot to our ‘point of interest’ for today’s pit at 800m were not so bad  – and whilst all was indeed under a mantle of new snow (requiring thigh wading techniques, away from main paths) temperature fluctuations had done much to help with the consolidation and stability of overnight accumulations.

In truth today’s exercise something of a ‘stable door after the horse has bolted’ in its attempt to document a snow profile on a similar aspect, at a similar elevation of recent avalanche activity – such is the nature of the Scottish Avalanche Beast – a day after is often a different world!

Respect to those out playing their winter games these past few days – I met a couple of hard core snowboard dudes yesterday who had overnighted and  ‘camped’ at the Loch – through good judgement / luck or otherwise they managed some turns on their split boards on the slopes down from the ‘window’ Sunday am before being forced off the hill  in the face of the ‘Full Scottish’……

Not so fortunate those of a differing ‘code’ out to climb a route on Saturday and who were avalanched out of the ramp on Staghorn……brusies hopefully heal and shredded rucksacks replaced.

The fast changing underfoot conditions of the Scottish winter environment often provides a fine balance of ‘stop ‘n play’ or ‘pack up and go’.

(This blog seeks to make no judgement on either decision)

Experience often said to be the sum total of our near misses…….

Comments on this post

  • Grant duff
    8th February 2016 11:18 pm

    Great photos and very jealousy.

  • Louis
    9th February 2016 7:23 am

    Paramo is the nearest we’ve got to Full Scottishproof. Thanks for background detail & safe travel line, another good breakfast read.

  • Mark Fagg
    9th February 2016 12:39 pm

    Hope the guy that took a tumble makes a full recovery. The bruises will heal, hope the mental scars do too. As someone who took a big-ish fall I can only recount a story from a few years ago.
    Having spent the long walk into Coire Ardair staring at the cliffs cloaked in snow, with icy lines running down in all the right places. The closer I got the more I knew my climbing days were over. We arrived at the lochan, my partner started to study the guide book and asked, “What do you fancy doing?” I declared, “Absolutely nothing”, and that finally, after several attempts at climbing again, was the last time I left a car park with ropes etc on my back.

    • meagaidhadmin
      9th February 2016 8:43 pm

      Thank you for your candid and heartfelt comment.

      It’s all in the timing isn’t? Knowing when a route is in condition..or not…knowing when the snow is, or isn’t, likely to swallow you up and spit you out of some God-forsaken gully.

      …..And knowing when to call it a day for the very last time.

      The memories of all the good days – maybe when at the pointy end of some of your more enjoyable climbs – should be cherished, and will be with you forever.

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