Brigadoon & post-holing nightmares

9th February 2016

How does that musical by Alan Jay Lerner go?…Some mystical Scottish village appears out the mists and vapours for just one day every 100 years then disappears again? Meggie was like that today (well, it was pretty good for The Man yesterday, too). After countless bad weather days finally some sun and decent visibility.

Aberarder(Above) Aberarder Farmhouse in a thin wraith of mist this morning.

Inversion1(Above) Somewhere close to the inversion boundary. Beautiful light. Crunchy snow on the main Coire Ardair path as well.

StoneC(Above) Coire Chriochairein…again. Quite a few large and quite droopy cornices hang over N and E aspects on our patch.

Igloo(Above) Igloo? The remains of an igloo down at the lochan’s edge. Quite big and rectangular (!) measuring approx 5m x 3m and utterly caved in. Or was it a simple walled shelter?

PostF2(Above) The Post Face et al  looking pretty awesome (an over-used adjective but entirely appropriate today). Staghorn Gully (the one with ‘bit of previous’) its top is located just to the right of the highest point on the skyline. The upward ascending ramp (commencing bottom left centre of shot) is the normal start, finishing up the right hand gully of the two parallel gullies where the ramp terminates.

staghorn1anno(Above) I hope the person avalanched on Saturday doesn’t mind us doing an on line ‘autopsy’ of this event but it was quite a remarkable one for a couple of reasons. It was a relatively small avalanche and the consequences of it were out of all proportion to its size. I measured the width of the terminal debris tip at 8m, and it ran out down snowy grooves and some nasty looking crags. We think the avalanche was triggered at the bottom of the twin gullies, but it may have been further up the right hand gully. We’re not sure and would welcome confirmation.

The press and other media were quick to tag this as a 1000′ (300m) ride over rock and snow. Actually, more like 160m (or 200m if triggered higher). For comparison, the Post Face tops out at a lofty 1050m, the lochan is at 620m and long gully routes like North Post, Centre Post and South Post start at around 730m. So that’s 320m of ‘straight up’ vertical on the longest winter routes on our patch (and in Scotland, methinks). 160m or 200m is still a long way to fall though and it’s nothing short of miraculous that injuries were so light. I believe the victim’s rucsac took most of the punishment and ended up comprehensively shredded!

Inner C approach(Above) Up into the Inner Coire today (avalanche debris tip immediately behind camera). Thankful that I could follow some old footprints since there’s a horrible ‘death crust’ below about 850m at the moment which makes venturing off the beaten path a post-holing nightmare. Not recommended!

Pinnacle Buttress(Above) Glimpse of the Pinnacle, with Bellevue Buttress to its left, from near the pit site. The formal snow pit was carried out at the bottom of the first pitch of The Wand & Diadem in the Inner Coire.

InnerC vista(Above) Looking down from the Inner Coire to Lochan a Choire and Coire Ardair. Pretty much full cover above 650m at the moment. Oh, and did I mention that crust….?

Deer(Above) Back close to Aberarder. Carcass of a ‘beast’ (deer) awaiting collection and transport to the SNH larder for butchery.  Ross, one of the stalkers, was telling me that SNH Creag Meagaidh are some way off meeting their target for the deer cull this year. The horrible and generally wet weather has encouraged the deer have roam more widely but when it’s really snowy they tend to gravitate down the hill and are easier to stalk.



Comments on this post

  • Grant Duff
    10th February 2016 8:27 pm

    A great insight into the local “happenings”. I love the term ‘death crust’ which is new to me. Thanks for posting so much detail.

  • Kate Gilliver
    11th February 2016 12:02 am

    Fantastic set of photos from today, and thanks for the detailed report.

  • Mo Richards
    11th February 2016 1:48 pm

    Excellent blog!

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