Warm in the sun, cold in the shade.

31st March 2019

(Above) A long distance peek at the eastern aspects of Sron a Ghoire, the Post Face of Coire Ardair and Coire nan Gall.


(Above) Bit more of an idea of the snow coverage on Sron a Ghoire. Windward (west-facing) aspects are much barer. Best, but patchy of course, on North through East to SE above about 750 to 800m.


(Above) The Inner Coire and The Window. The usual cornice line above ‘Cinderella’ now pretty much gone (sunlit snow top left of pic) though there are a few old cornices remaining elsewhere.


(Above) The money shot. A couple of walker/picnickers down by the loch edge enjoying the classic view of the Post Face of Coire Ardair. Not quite ‘shirt sleeves weather’ in the sun but almost!


(Above) Easy Gully today. Complete with firm snow, at least it was firm where the sun had been denied exposure to it.


(Above) Easy Gully inset. A cascade today where Creag Meagaidh’s signature ice climb, ‘Last Post’, is usually located.


(Above) The North-facing aspects high above Coire Ardair. Heavily shaded areas stayed cold and frozen all day. Moister, softer snow on South-facing aspects after midday.


(Above) North-facing Raeburn’s Gully receiving some attention from a couple of mountaineers.





Comments on this post

  • Chris
    31st March 2019 5:41 pm

    Can I ask what time this was taken? I was at the very base of Raeburn’s at 12-ish and found the snow so soft from the sun that I eventually fell through with one leg and found it hollow with water running beneath. Further down the snow was hard but when I tried to go up again, my ice axe went straight through at another point and I didn’t feel safe. (I’ve never gone up a gully in thaw conditions). I wondered if I’d have had more luck later in the day. Maybe the snow at the right hand side of the gully base gets less sun and is firmer? Or should I just have persevered? I wondered about the tops of Easy and Raeburn’s in the sun too. It felt like 15 degrees, it was so hot.

    • meagaidhadmin
      31st March 2019 7:14 pm

      Hi Chris,

      The photo was taken at around 1pm. Didn’t visit Raeburn’s Gully as I was poking around in Easy Gully so can’t comment on exactly what you found there. However, the snow was a little softer at lower altitudes in Easy Gully but reasonably firm and properly supportive. Maybe it was a bit warmer low down due to lower altitude rather than exposure to sun?

      (Edit: Re. the hollow snow you found. Sometimes, very low in gullies really close to the snow line, the snow can be a bit thin over the rock/boulders and cover over large air spaces. Higher up the gully the snow is much thicker and therefore more supportive even though it too is melting from beneath and on the surface. Perhaps if you’d gone higher up Raeburn’s you’d have found more agreeable and reliable footing? The two guys in the photo seemed to make quite good progress and didn’t observe them falling through higher up.)

      Definitely warm in the sun though! I was down to a single layer on the way out of the coire this afternoon. Interestingly, summit actual air temperatures were all minus values today (a la Stevenson Screen) though of course it would feel warmer in the sun up on the plateau.

      Easy Gully and Raeburn’s are both bang on North-facing, thus were heavily shaded all day and stayed cold.

      Many thanks for your comment.

  • Matt Smith
    31st March 2019 9:47 pm

    It was my wife and I in Raeburn’s. The snow was firm all the way up, although we started up the ribbon of grass on the left. It was probably deeper where we joined.

    • meagaidhadmin
      31st March 2019 10:33 pm

      Apologies to your wife for the incorrect gender assignment, Matt. I took the pic from the other side of the lochan but it doesn’t excuse making a lazy gender assumption!

      An additional image from my camera memory card for you:-

      Raeburn's Gully 31/03/19

  • Matt Smith
    1st April 2019 8:06 am

    No apology needed, no offence taken. Thank you for the zoomed in photo.

  • Chris
    1st April 2019 10:06 am

    Thanks for the info! I must just have chosen 2 bad points to try and lost confidence. I wish I’d not got up so early, I would certainly have found it reassuring to see two mountaineers successfully going up the gully!
    I must have passed and said ‘Hi’ to everyone too as I left and they walked in.

    Well done anyway and thanks for the details, I’ll be less tentative next time. More experience and all that.

    Kind regards,

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