Winter finds its mojo. Part 2. Discretion the better part of valour.

11th February 2020

(Above) The Creag Meagaidh car park this morning.  Almost deja vu just with a little more snow here today. Snow showers and strong winds were incessant for most of the morning. Camera came out during lulls otherwise it was hood up and head down up into Coire Ardair. Interesting head game in the car park deciding whether to take skis or simply just Shanks Pony it up along the main path. Decided on skis….


(Above) The start of the Coire Ardair path yesterday (Monday) when my SAIS forecasting partner Seamus O’Avalanche and I foot-soldiered it up towards Carn Liath. Was just about OK on foot.


(Above) The start of the Coire Ardair path today, Tuesday. Yep, skis looking a fairly good decision….


(Above) I wonder how many people have abandoned their winter mountain day just a 100m or so after breaking out from the immature birch shown here? Much deeper snow beyond the trees, so much so that it was difficult to follow the course of the Coire Ardair path. Came across two winter hill-goers close to this point who turned tail having decided that discretion is the better part of valour. Skis a definite advantage from here onwards!


(Above) Bumped into another fit and very determined group of climbers a little later. They too were in retreat having broken trail all the way along the Coire Ardair path to the base of the crags in upper Coire Ardair. No mean task on a day like this! (Definitely an example of doing the ‘hard yards’ there, guys). Geared up with ropes and climbing paraphernalia they’d been in to check out one of Creag Meagaidh’s very long and technical buttress routes. They’d seen the debris from a very recent large cornice triggered avalanche in Raeburn’s Gully (debris running out almost to the lochan) and shortly thereafter decided that today was not to be the day for their adventure. Good call.

Great to see well-equipped people making informed and astute decisions in the mountains. Let’s remember that the vast majority of Scottish winter hill-goers, measured in many thousands, make great decisions about their mountain day week in, week out. But as we know from yesterday’s Ben Nevis rescue, there’s a tiny minority that sometimes don’t. And it is tiny.

(Thanks for the info about the Raeburn’s avalanche now duly recorded on the SAIS website.)


Comments on this post

  • Sam Percival
    11th February 2020 8:08 pm

    Great to meet and chat to one of the excellent, determined and dedicated forecasters. I can put a face to all the words of wisdom now. 🙂

    • meagaidhadmin
      11th February 2020 8:57 pm

      Maybe bump into you again one day, Sam, hopefully when the weather’s a bit more clement!

      Many thanks for your comment.

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