‘Sauce for the goose…’
16th April 2021
(Above) The steep snow laden East-facing crags above Lochan Coire Choille Rais, as viewed from the summit of Creag Meagaidh. Following the eastern assault on the summit yesterday by Seamus Two Yachts O’Avalanche, I launched my own bid for the summit from the west today. The photo illustrates pretty well the general distribution of snow up of the ‘highveldt’ of our plateau areas at the moment – patchy but with quite large expanses of snow close to summit areas.
(Above) Looking West from Creag Meagaidh towards the three summits of Beinn a Chaorainn, in the middle ground, with the Grey Coires, Aonach Mor and Ben Nevis in the indistinct, hazy far distance. Cornices remain a bit of a feature in a few specific places. The sunlit ones in the foreground overhang the Moy Coire and in this instance are more of a navigation consideration for hill walkers in flat light or poor weather conditions. Note the beautiful gentle arc formed by the snowy terrain on the near horizon enhanced by the sharp loop of the partially sunlit cornice line.
(Above) A more detailed shot of Beinn a Chaorainn’s East-facing coires from the Creag Meagaidh summit plateau. Coire na h-Uamha right of centreÂ is NE through to East-facing and is still holding quite a lot of snow, particularly in its various gullies/couloirs. The popular East Ridge is in the centre of the shot and is, for the most part, now a rock scramble except for the ramp of snow near its summit. East Ridge is also shown in profile in the photo below.
(Above) Beinn a Chaorainn’s cornices are still hanging on in there. Although not particularly large (they can be enormous) they’ll remain weak and prone to collapse in milder weather. There have been incidents where walkers deviated too close to the edge with tragic consequences, one just a few years ago.
Hill walkers visiting Beinn a Chaorainn’s three summits have to navigate the edge of two wide, arcing coires. Best advice is not to use the coire edges as navigational ‘handrails’ but break up your summits excursion into four straight legs some way back from the edge, forming two conservative but safe ‘dog legs’. Staying near to the coire rims – and dangerously close to or on top of an unsupported cantilever of snow – may get you uninterrupted views East but also, potentially, a brief and brutal tumble into oblivion. Which will definitely rock your world but not in a good way. Be patient; great views can be had from the summits but getting there safely is paramount.
Falling rocks and ice are also a consideration in the vicinity of steep crags at the moment especially the Post Face of Coire Ardair and in the Inner Coire. It’s also the time of year for minor full depth avalanche potential to increase on the Post Face, too. Other than that, general snow stability is good! (Full depth avalanches are outside the remit of our forecasts but mention is made of their likelihood in certain conditions, such as now).
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