…and a few seconds later….

18th January 2020

(Above) Some minor loose snow activity this morning in Balloon Gully, a cross-loaded incision in the sidewall of Coire Ardair above the old birch trees.


(Above) …and a few second later. Maybe the sun did enough work on the snow to loosen its bonds? As mentioned above, pretty minor activity in the scheme of things but does demonstrate that the snow lacks cohesion in its near surface layers. A low value avalanche ‘clue’ but as you’ll see later indicative of some instability.


(Above) Drifting and scouring above 750m over on the Sron a Ghoire side of Coire Ardair. Drifting didn’t let up at all on Saturday leading to new windslab development on lee slopes and scouring on those exposed to the wind. We had overnight snowfall down to the A86 so the wind had quite a lot of raw material available to push around the mountains in our neck of the woods.


(Above) A minor incised terrain feature at 850m over on Sron Ghoire, filling in on its lee side. Vast expanses of crusty and/or hard snow-ice on wind exposed areas at plateau level. The crust was unsupportive…again…today below 900m, but maybe firmer up high? I was foot-soldiering in Coire Chriochairein and found it best to aim for the exposed vegetation. Not as tiring and less need to resort to my (extensive…and growing) collection of verbal expletives after each footstep breaks through the surface into the deep cruddy snow beneath!


(Above) A view towards Coire Chriochairein from the main Coire Ardair track. A reasonable little trench on the path created by foot traffic and skis, so access relatively easy.


(Above) Cornice-triggered Size 1 avalanche on a steep SE aspect in Coire Chriochairein this morning. The winds swirled around and scoured the bottom end of this coire but continued to load windslab into the upper reaches of the scarp slopes and gullies seen in this photo. Skyline here is at circa 950m.


(Above) A small icy outcrop in Coire Chriochairein. Clearer and brighter at times……


(Above) ……but blink and suddenly you’re buffeted and enveloped by a spindrift maelstrom. This sudden changeability was fairly typical of overhead conditions today.


(Above) A peek into the upper end of Coire Ardair and its steep crags.


(Above) Looking down towards Loch Laggan from Coire Chriochairein. Definite wintry look to the landscape now.


(Above) A number of ski tracks on the Coire Ardair path on Saturday. Had a brief conversation with a pair of fairly local ski tourers (from Moy, nr Inverness) who, if I’m not mistaken, are these two picking their way up the steep approach to the Min Window from Coire Ardair. Hope they found some good snow. (If it is you, then do chime in on the Comments section. Be interested to hear how your day turned out.) Crusty down low and there are precious few ribbons of drifted snow for skinning ascents to the plateau, one of which these two found.



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