Mountain Training.

11th January 2022

(Above) The Post Face of Coire Ardair.  Moist snow up to around 900m today with firmer snow and better underfoot conditions at higher altitudes.


(Above) A view of the Inner Coire of Coire Ardair with the high bealach, The Window, centre of shot.  Looking quite wintry up high today but some snow loss anticipated after the forthcoming thaw gets established overnight. Pretty quiet day at Creag Meagaidh NNR with the occasional winter hillwalker and a small group under instruction. You should be able to spot them in the bottom quarter of the photo walking in perfect formation into the Inner Coire.


(Above) Also came across a member of the armed forces (pictured above) getting in some mileage and preparation for his forthcoming Winter Mountain Leader assessment at Ballachulish over nr Glencoe. An engineer with the R.E.M.E. Royal Engineers. Should have got your name. My bad! Navigation was the keynote training activity for his day, entailing a jaunt up to The Window then a wander around the plateau in the flat light, strong winds and lightly drifting snow. A perfect day for practising navigation, but maybe not sightseeing!


(Above) Raeburn’s Gully – the steep, leftward slanting ribbon of snow in the centre of the previous photo. Narrow and with moist, soft snow in its lower reaches. The large ‘pancake’ of ice (on the right of the photo) fell off at around noon as I descended away from the gully. Falling rocks and ice likely to be objective hazards in the near vicinity of the crags during the forthcoming thaw.


(Above) Easy Gully on the Post Face of Coire Ardair. Quite contrasty conditions up the length of this low grade gully. Moist and damp down low where the photo was taken but colder and distinctly wintry at times at the top end of the gully. Note the plume of spindrift at the top left of the shot – much colder conditions up high. All the ice close to the camera, including ‘Last Post’ (centre) was wet and drippy. Avalanche debris from a couple of weekend events is visible close to the camera.


(Above) It’s normal to see old and/or new avalanche debris at the base of the Post Face. Facing due east means it’s in the lee of the prevailing westerly airflow so it’s where a lot of wind-drifted snow (windslab) accumulates. And since the gullies of the Post Face are at such a sweet angle for avalanches to run it’s a venue for quite a lot of avalanche activity. An interesting avalanche track and debris tip in the photo above. A relatively small wet snow avalanche (from last weekend) has been channelled through a narrow defile then filled an approx 3m deep drainage channel. The avalanche occurred higher up in Staghorn Gully and was probably a relatively minor affair in the start zone. However, on its journey down the steep mountain, it will have picked up a little more snow and then had its kinetic energy multiplied by squeezing through the rocky narrowing, turning a small avalanche into one with significantly more power and potential to knock over and bury whatever was in its path in this small but deeply-incised water feature. A classic terrain trap.  Small avalanches in Scotland can quite often have outcomes out of all proportion to the size of the original event.

Comments on this post

  • Jamie
    11th January 2022 6:41 pm

    Royal Engineers, not REME!

    • meagaidhadmin
      11th January 2022 6:48 pm

      Damn! I guessed at your Bristol-based regiment then checked with Google. Google lied!

      Sincere apologies. I will duly amend the text and condemn the REME back to obscurity!

      Many thanks for your comment, Jamie. Great to bump into you today. Hope the nav went well.

  • Jamie
    11th January 2022 8:27 pm

    Ha ha no problem at all – it was great meeting you and keep up the amazing work!

Got something to say? Leave a comment

    Latest Creag Meagaidh Avalanche Report
    RSS Feed
    Keep up to date by subscribing to our RSS feed
Service funded by sportscotland
Forecast data supplied by the Met Office
SAIS Sponsors