Goldilocks snow & Mystic Meg’s view into the future.
13th January 2023
(Above) Looking out of the Inner Coire down towards Lochan a Choire – obscured – and Coire Ardair. A tour of The Inner Coire of Coire Ardair and the lower part of the Post Face today. Most of the new snow at all levels was humid, having fallen out of the sky and landing on the mountains at just sub-zero temperatures. And, a bit like Goldilocks’ experience, it was neither too warm nor too cold but just right…for a bit of early consolidation. The underlying old snow was moister and quite deep in places meaning some post-holing in the Inner Coire on the approach to The Window. Quite tiring. You’ve been warned! Fresh snow down to 650m and a well-defined snowline. If you look at the far skyline in the photo you’ll be able to make out Na Cnapanan at 625m, the micro peak above Aberarder, and a common waypoint for those en route to/from Carn Liath, one of our Munros.
(Above) The NE facing crags of the Inner Coire of Coire Ardair. Covered in fresh snow today and a bit of a plough through deep moist old snow when ascending the crag apron. If you peer very closely at the top right corner of the photo you’ll just be able to make out a cornice line above ‘Cinderella’. Expecting more weak cornice growth here – and above other similar lee slopes – over the next day or so.
(Above) The mouth of Easy Gully and the Post Face of Coire Ardair. The avalanche debris is a few days old (and looks like it contains cornice debris, too). I think this came down from high on the Post Face itself probably from the steep ground immediately south of Last Post, one of our principal ice routes. Quite difficult moving around this snow-covered talus fan due to the snow disguising innumerable voids between rock and boulders most of which were just the right size to lose your foot and leg down.
(Above) Looking across Pinnacle Buttress towards the mouth of Raeburn’s Gully, Eastern Corner and Bellevue Buttress. More avalanche and cornice debris here, too, this time at the base of Raeburn’s Gully; timing is probably similar to the Easy Gully events.
Goldilocks rules may have applied elsewhere but on the numerous steeply inclined shelves of the crags, the snow below the freezing level was not at all happy.
(Above) Similar shot to the previous one but includes the bay which is the start of the ‘1959 Face Route’ on Pinnacle Buttress. Note the mucky avalanche debris. This fell down at about 11.45am and was full-depth debris, albeit thin, that slid off the ramps above at about 800m – about 50m below the freezing level. So here the snow was a bit too warm (and definitely not to Goldilocks’ liking). Nor mine so I beat a hasty retreat!
Looks like we’re getting some more snow overnight on light to moderate winds. The snow already on the ground is expected to show some more consolidation but any drifting on Saturday will create new hazard on all new lee slopes. Check the formal report/forecast for details. New cornices will also be worth avoiding from both above and below.
MYSTIC MEG’S VIEW INTO THE FUTURE.
The very helpful people at the Met Office have started to provide us with a tailored weather and snow outlook, all done via a Zoom/MS Teams meeting on selected Fridays. Kudos to the Met Office and in particular to John Mitchell, one of their forecasters, for making this happen. It’s incredibly useful to us so I thought I’d share some of the info here, too.
(Above) A plot of various models showing projected air temperatures for the next couple of weeks at 1500m above Aviemore, although these projections will apply (plus/minus by degree) to other parts of the Highlands as well. It’s a 14-day outlook so the usual caveats but there’s more certainty about what’s happening next week which will be much colder, in particular from Monday to Thursday. Not only that but….
(Above) Projected accumulated snow depths (ignoring drifting) by Wednesday 18th Jan. I wouldn’t take the snow depths too literally (at all..) but it does indicate we’re in for a much more wintry few days from late Sunday onwards.
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