Spring makes an appearance on Beinn a Chaorainn

25th February 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) Looking down from the broad South shoulder of Beinn a Chaorainn, with the reservoir end of Loch Laggan immediately below and Loch Trieg top right of centre. Brief periods of sunshine today in amongst the snow showers which came in fairly frequently at the western end of SAIS Creag Meagaidh. Our core area further east may have received fewer snow showers since it’s always a bit hit or miss with shower activity even over just a few kilometres.
(Above) Up to 40cms of new drifted snow in sheltered areas above 950m here on Beinn a Chaorainn. Although there was only brief exposure, the sun got to work quickly on the snow and induced a ‘cheese-like’ consistency in the snow in the top-most layer. Perhaps ‘curds & whey’ is a better descriptor? Radiation from the sun through the clouds also contributed to this. On less steep ground, like here, the process was a consolidating influence which occurred quite quickly in the upper layers of deeper deposits such as these.
(Above) 1000m. The top of one of the large amphitheatre-like East-facing bowls on Beinn a Chaorainn. On steeply inclined ground (therefore more directly exposed to the sun here) solar radiation was more of a destabilising influence on the newly drifted snow, triggering a bout of widespread rollerball and single point releases just after midday.
(Above) Lower down the same bowl shown in the previous photo.  Quite a few of the rollerball and single point releases coalesced to form wider snow slides further downhill.
In general pretty patchy cover now. The older snowpack is moist and stable with a crust at higher altitudes. Warmer air temperatures from just after dawn on Friday when there may be some limited wet snow instability, especially where thin newer snow overlies a crust in very steep locations such as those above. New cornices are pretty small but there are some much larger old ones around that won’t respond well to the much milder weather tomorrow.

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