The Window, from both sides.
10th March 2021
The Scottish Avalanche Information Service issues information to support permitted activity under current Scottish Government guidance.
Please be aware of current mandatory travel restrictions inÂ Local AuthorityÂ areas within Scotland and respect local communities by referring toÂ Scottish Government guidanceÂ and safe route choices for exercise. For further guidance please refer to the following information forÂ hillwalkers and climbersÂ andÂ snowsports on ski and board.
This blog is intended to provide hazard and mountain condition information to help plan safer mountain trips.
(Above) The crags of the Inner Coire of Coire Ardair with The Window on the far right.Â One of the trainees in the SAIS Forecaster Training Programme on the right just returning from having a poke around in the snow, not that there was much new snow to investigate. Very wet at all levels overnight then a refreeze giving a very supportive crust above 800m; crampons and ice axe essential for safe movement on steep snow today. The cornices in shot are old ones, composed of coarse-grained snow that’s been through several melt-freeze cycles.
(Above) Photo taken on the Glen Roy side of the watershed looking east to The Window. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted the iron fence posts, the remains of the old fence line demarking the watershed between the Glen Roy and Glen Spean, the ancient boundary separating Badenoch from Lochaber and the estates of Braeroy and Ardverike (now SNH Creag Meagaidh, of course). Difficult to make out in the photo, but all before you in the foreground is hard or very crusty old snow.
(Above) The traditional snowhole site just west of the bealach which forms The Window. One of the very few accumulations of recently drifted snow I could find today. About 60cm deep here but with a footprint on the ground smaller than a couple of garden sheds and the site of today’s (not very representative) formal snow observations centre of shot.
(Above) Looking across to the backside of Creag Meagaidh summit from close to The Window, with the crags that run down to Lochan Uaine prominent. Vast areas of windswept snow-ice here and pretty typical of conditions elsewhere, too.
(Above) The sun made a welcome but all too brief appearance around lunchtime. Looking across the crags below Carn Dearg to the just visible peaks of the Glengarry Forest beside the NW shore of Loch Lochy.
(Above) On the return to Coire Ardair, a peek east towards a distant Loch Laggan, Sron a Ghoire, Coire nan Gamhna and, on the right, the crags of the Inner Coire.
Forecasted precipitation for Thursday is in the form of snow (some rain & sleet overnight) but it will be coming in showers. Never easy for the Met Office to forecast the exact track of individual shower cells so forecasting total snowfall amounts for any one place is a bit of a crapshoot. Entirely possible we could get more, or less, snow than officially advised. Since the SAIS is normally entirely hostage to forecasted snowfall it can mean the avalanche hazard might need tweaking up or down a notch on the day depending on where, and how much, snow actually falls out of the sky.
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10th March 2021 11:13 pm
That’s a useful snippet at the end, regarding the reliability of the avalanche forecast in showery weather. I don’t recall coming across it before. I can see how it makes sense.
11th March 2021 8:31 am
Thanks for your comment, Al.
As a general rule we would advise all winter mountain-goers to compare the SAIS published weather forecast with what actually falls out of the sky (or not) on the day. Although there has been a huge leap forward in the accuracy of Met Office forecasts, especially in the timing of weather events, it’s still just a forecast and not a statement of fact.
Shower activity is a difficult one for the Met Office for reasons outlined in the blog post above, though it should be said that they are much more secure in their forecasting of frontal weather activity.