Sunshine and (some) snow.

9th January 2020

Great day out on Beinn a Chaorainn today.

(Above) Travelling west from misty Strathspey the visibility didn’t look particularly promising in the morning. The view west from Auchmore on the A86 towards Sron a Ghoire extreme left skyline and the Carn Liath massif with its outlying snowy looking coires – Coire nan Gall left and Coire Dubh right. The camera is deceptive; the snow cover is not as good as it looks.


(Above) A distant view from Gallovie of the Post Face of Coire Ardair and the ‘V’ shaped bealach known as The Window. The east-facing approach to The Window, seen here, still has very modest and thin snow cover at the moment. Again, deceptively white though.


(Above) On the forestry track up to Beinn a Chaorainn. A distant sneak peek of Aonach Mor’s crags, gullies and back bowls just as the sun started to make an appearance under the high cloud.


(Above) Beinn a Chaorainn’s East Ridge. Light snow cover down to around 500m today. Undrifted snow at 950m only 5-6cms. Quite an alpine-like feel to the East Ridge but after the sustained recent meltdown there’s next to no névé so what you see is just fresh, dry snow.


(Above) More detailed shot looking up along the crest of Beinn a Chaorainn’s East Ridge. The sun came out! Quite cold, too, with summit temperatures at about -4 degrees C. this morning.


(Above) Cheeky wee avalanche in Coire na h-Uamha, next door to and north of the East Ridge. Small, size 1, cornice triggered event 10-15m wide running out 30m on this steep East-facing coire backwall – centre skyline is at 1000m. Happened some time on the 8th January. At the moment the general set up is that we have older dry windslab only within 10m of the top of gullies and coire rims – very similar localised distribution to what you see in this photo. Thin, soft fresh snow predominates elsewhere on recent lee slopes. Some cornices here and there, though not particularly large.


(Above) The view east across the Creag Meagaidh plateau area. Creag Meagaidh summit is the highest point on the far left sky line. The Moy Wall is also visible on the near horizon in this shot. The long glacial trench immediately on the other side of the Moy Wall is the Moy Coire. The high burn at the head of the Moy Coire (just in shadow) normally gets choked with snow and can be a great ski out off the plateau – and right down to the A86 roadside during exceptional cover. Looking quite bare up high over there right now though, which isn’t surprising given the really strong winds we’ve had recently. Winds will be picking up again during the day but anticipate only minor redistribution of snow onto lee slopes due to the paucity of snow on the plateau.


(Above) Passed by this rarely visited wee lochan at 900m that empties into the obvious lochan – which most visitors see – about 150m below this one. The East Ridge forms the back drop to the shot. Ridge ascentionists may see this very small water feature if visibility allows but hillwalkers taking in Beinn a Chaorainn’s summit in winter may not as the view is “protected” from prying eyes by the massive cornice which normally encircles this particular East-facing coire.


(Above) The location of the lochan and yesterday’s avalanche.










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