Variable instability and snow surface.

19th January 2021

Covid -19
The Scottish Avalanche Information Service issues information to support permitted activity under current Scottish Government guidance.
Please be aware of current mandatory travel restrictions in Local Authority areas within Scotland and respect local communities by referring to Scottish Government guidance and safe route choices for exercise. For further guidance please refer to the following information for hillwalkers and climbers and snowsports on ski and board.
This blog is intended to provide hazard and mountain condition information to help plan safer mountain trips.
(Above) The general set up in Coire Ardair. The main path is icy and/or crusty for most of its length particularly after the juvenile birch and likely to remain much the same on Wednesday. Effective snowline is about 550m. Venturing onto snow just a few metres from the path will entail dealing with a breakable crust which is tiring and not much fun.
(Above) Bellevue Buttress, Raeburn’s Gully (more or less hidden here), The Pinnacle, Easy Gully and part of the Post Face. The breakable crust extends up to quite high altitudes though the main gully lines are a mix of crust and ribbons of windslab, often with an abrupt transition from one to the other. The bottom of all our gullies have varying amounts of old re-frozen cornice and avalanche debris which is a pretty normal feature hereabouts and can surprise those who haven’t visited Creag Meagaidh before. The ‘boulders’ of old cornice debris below ‘Cinderella’ in the Inner Coire are quite large.
(Above) NNE facing crags of the Inner Coire of Coire Ardair. Cornices are a feature of our patch at the moment. Anything very steep and N to SE facing tends to be overhung by quite sizeable cornices. Top right of the shot is part of the cornice line (difficult to see in the photo) which overhangs ‘Cinderella’, one of our low grade gully lines. The breakable crust in the Inner Coire was a bit of a ‘mare and I was relieved to follow someone else’s postholes for part of the way. Snow stability was quite variable today. Noticeable instability in some places on very steep ground above 950m on N to SE but also lower in a few of our gullies as well. Crusty, scoured and stable expanses of snow predominate below 900m in most other places.
(Above) The view ESE from the Inner Coire. Light was flat for most of the day with occasional low cloud obscuring the mountains.

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