Failing to clear.

8th March 2018

(Above) Gloomy in the snow showers and drifting snow today in Coire Ardair. Very wintry feel to the place and new snow cover above 650m but none at all down at Aberarder. Snow has more or less obliterated Lochan a Choire in Coire Ardair and it was interesting to watch snow drifting across its surface this morning. Peering into Easy Gully at the top end of Coire Ardair. Broke trail pretty much all the way from the early high point of the path all the way up into the Inner Coire. Was a little surprised at how much snow there was down low, especially near the lochan. Skis would have been a good idea for access.


(Above) Looking across to the Pinnacle looming up into the cloud and snow. The entrance to Raeburn’s Gully just visible at the foot of Pinnacle Buttress. Not a lot of contrast for photography as you can see.


(Above) The well defined open corner of ‘The Pumpkin’ in the Inner Coire. Today’s formal observations took place immediately below the beginning of the first pitch.

Highly variable stability today. New snow instability and lingering buried weak layers in places. The forecast for Friday is not going to improve either of these; quite the reverse. Better stability below 800m today with local scouring, but complex local winds have put down new windslab in a variety of locations. Quite a lot of cross loading going on with benches/shelves on the Post Face now carrying windslab of marginal stability.


(Above) Yay! The Window emerges from the gloom (briefly). The approach to The Window from the Inner Coire was being scoured today but a wind shift and more sustained, heavier snowfall will see this being loaded up with windslab on Friday. Friday looks like being very wintry.


(Above) The miracle that is photo editing! A look back towards the bottom end of Coire Ardair from the Inner Coire. The original pic was a milky gloomfest. Tweak the contrast & mid tones and suddenly horizons become recognisable. As you can see, snow cover is pretty good hereabouts.


(Above) Gratuitous shot: some colour to brighten the gloom. The ‘angle of dangle’ at the formal snowpit site. All today’s photos were shot in colour mode, though you might not think so viewing the others.


(Above) This one definitely looks monochrome! The SW ridge at the mouth of Coire Chriochairein illuminated by a very brief burst of milky sunlight this afternoon.


(Above) The clouds tried but failed to part fully on the return leg back to Aberarder. A distant view of the Post Face.

Comments on this post

  • Stan Wygladala
    8th March 2018 9:39 pm

    Just wondering……….has anyone been actually climbing on the Post Face this year?
    And……….when did all this ski touring get going? I ceased climbing in the early 90s and saw, perhaps, one person per season in Scotland, although in the Alps it was quite common.
    And……..what happened to the apprentice?

    • meagaidhadmin
      8th March 2018 11:36 pm

      Post Face climbing. – Yes, the Post Face was busy with climbers during the last settled period from the 20th Feb until around 5th March.

      Ski touring in Scotland – It’s definitely been a ‘thing’ in the Scottish mountains since at least the 1980s, almost certainly much earlier though due to some very early adopters. It became more popular after the publication of Donald Bennet & Bill Wallace’s seminal ‘Ski Mountaineering in Scotland’ in 1987. (There’s a photo of a chap in the book ascending Ben Lawers in what look like leather ski boots and suffering the burden of a monstrous old school rucsac. So a bit of a 1960’s flavour there, I think). The book was very popular and was reprinted in 2015.

      A Canadian mountain guide I know was given a copy of the book by some grateful Scottish clients he had done some ski guiding for in the Rockies. He loved the beautifully produced book – it really is a delight with wonderful photos, concise text and simple but effective mapping graphics – but was a little perplexed that he could actually see the skis of the ski mountaineers in nearly all the photos. He had to be informed that snow in the Scottish mountains was not always deep, champagne powder as is quite often the case in North America!

      The apprentice – Do you mean the hound, or the one of the human variety?
      The hound keeps the ‘Other Guy’ in check and will no doubt be reprising her appearances at ‘Meggie soon. (I’m guessing).

      The human apprentice is alive & well and taking early steps to becoming properly & formally trained in avalanche ‘dark arts’. (I’ll be blogging about the SAIS Avalanche Forecaster training programme in the not too distant future). Whilst this is happening he’s holding down a proper job as a geo-technical engineer for an engineering consultancy in Inverness where he’s helped design micro-hydro schemes as well as carried out ground investigation work for the upgrading of the A9 trunk road. I miss him. He has very strong legs, huge lung capacity, an unquenchable desire for breaking trail, large ears and a small mouth. What more could one ask for in a field assistant at SAIS Creag Meagaidh?

  • Stan Wygladala
    9th March 2018 12:19 am

    Well…….I could never have expected such a comprehensive reply.
    I hope that the apprentice duo make a return quite soon in order to preserve your knees. I am totally impressed by the talents of the human apprentice but I would expect the VO2 figures of the canine version to be worthy of much envy.
    And………here in Bristol last week we had 9ins of perfect powder snow at -7c that totally confused all that attempted to make snowballs but allowed snowboarders long curves descending the many hills even down our “main roads”. Skis here are apparently old school.
    And………..the best trail breaker I ever knew was my old Otter hound, Benson, who somehow confused deep snow with water and bounded unceasingly onwards and upwards. Webbed feet were his unfair advantage.
    Thank you for some truly great photos and comments.

    • meagaidhadmin
      9th March 2018 7:50 am

      No, no! Thank you for your excellent and unfailingly entertaining comments.
      (If we’re not careful, Stan, we’ll be turning into a mutual appreciation society!)

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