No show snow

8th January 2023

(Above) The Big Picture. Looking west towards Sron a Ghoire and the Post Face of Coire Ardair. Was expecting a much snowier scene this morning. Most of what you see in the photo is heavily scoured crusty old snow but there had been some drifting. Read on.


(Above) Coire Chriochairein – a steep East to South East facing coire that catches a lot of snow in the right conditions. The strong wind today blew more or less directly left to right in the photo and seemed to do as much scouring as depositing in this well-formed glacial cirque. Very crusty right up to within a few metres of the top of the steep coire backwall, thence some thin new windslab. The upside of little appreciable snowfall was great visibility and some brightness, at least for a time!


(Above) L to R – The top of Raeburn’s Gully, Pinnacle Buttress, the top of Easy Gully and part of the Post Face. Yep, it was windy up top today. 50mph gusting 55 with downdrafts that generated fierce and sudden squalls down by Lochan a Choire, strong enough to blow you over if you’d not braced in preparation. (The squalls whipped up spume on the loch surface which gave momentary visual warning before you were consumed and battered by the maelstrom).

Pretty easy to see evidence of drifting in the photo above. The SSW airflow (going left to right in the photo) carried the remnants of the light overnight snowfall and whipped it into lee areas such as the top of Easy Gully above. Not much new windslab at the time of reporting but more is expected overnight and during Monday.

(Below) Easy Gully is a bit of a conundrum for us when forecasting snow stability and avalanches here at Creag Meagaidh. It actually faces due North so gets filled in at the top when the wind blows from close to due south. But. It lies immediately underneath the East-facing crags of the Post Face from which it gets an endless supply of spindrift (and windslab) when the wind is from the West. No surprise then that it gets choked with snow and sees quite a lot of avalanche action of its own as well as receiving av debris from the East-facing Post Face gullies. Definitely an ‘atmospheric’ location!


(Above) A shot of the northern end of the main buttress of the Post Face. The top of Easy Gully is 250m to the left of the photo. Spindrift, the raw material of windslab, flying off the end of the buttress onto the north-facing exits ramps of routes in the Inner Coire. Cornice development was notable by its absence today but more in prospect on Monday and is something to watch out for by the end of the day.


(Above) The North East-facing crags of the Inner Coire. This is where the spindrift from the previous photo ended up. Very modest cornice above the low-grade gully, ‘Cinderella’ on the far right of the shot. Quite a lot of old avalanche and cornice debris litters the crag apron – a common sight – but only of historic interest today.


(Above) ‘The Window’. The approach slope to this well-known bealach was composed mainly of moist old snow with a thin crust. There was some windslab in places but only in limited quantity this afternoon.


(Above) Left to right. Looking South towards Bellevue Buttress, Raeburn’s Gully partly obscured, Pinnacle Buttress, Easy Gully and part of the Post Face.

And finally.

(Above) Telephoto shot of two of Beinn a Chaorainn’s East-facing coires, viewed from the A86 this afternoon. The justifiably popular Alpine-like East Ridge is on the right of the photo.


Comments on this post

  • Colin
    8th January 2023 6:59 pm

    Excellent descriptions, nicely illustrated by photos etc. Well done.

    • meagaidhadmin
      8th January 2023 9:15 pm

      Hey, thanks, Colin. Kind comment.

      Always easier to illustrate/explain what’s going on when better weather allows for clearer, well-lit photos.

  • Stan Wygladala
    9th January 2023 1:04 pm

    Great atmospheric photos and very good informative information. Easy Gully my a*se. More like a cunning death trap in certain conditions.

    • meagaidhadmin
      9th January 2023 4:48 pm

      Pithy assessment, Stan!

  • Keith Horner
    9th January 2023 1:48 pm

    Fascinating and informative insight on how the complexities of wind direction, speed and topography conspire to influence snow distribution and create avalanche risk/cornice build up on the varied aspects of the Meggie crags.
    Meant to ask previously about the rationale for the siting of the weather station you mentioned in a pre Christmas report – location seemed a bit peripheral/easterly to the main area of reporting but perhaps keeping out of the way of the usual access routes to the munros/crags was a factor?

    • meagaidhadmin
      9th January 2023 3:44 pm

      Hi Keith,

      Many thanks for your comment.

      There were various factors in play when deciding the site of the weather station.

      It needs a line of sight to a mobile phone mast, an altitude of 900m or more, a location some distance from regular foot traffic (for obvious reasons), and a site relatively unimpeded by surrounding hills that might compromise wind flow. In addition, a spot where vehicle access is possible so that maintenance can be carried out without having to lug heavy tools in a rucksack. If you look very carefully at satellite maps of the area you’ll see some faint old vehicle tracks leading right up to its location from nr Garvamore.

      We were also aware that siting the weather station inside the boundary of the Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve would be difficult in both environmental and political (small ‘p’) terms. Wise not to prod those particular hornets’ nests! The Stob Coire Dubh location isn’t perfect but it’s not a bad ‘best fit’. It is a bit far east on our patch but we couldn’t find a location elsewhere that ticked most of the above boxes. Kudos to Ardverike Estate for allowing us to locate it inside their boundary.

      We’re having some teething problems with the station at the moment. The wind speed and direction functions seem to drop out randomly but we’re hoping some minor tweaks will restore reliability.

  • Roger Clare
    9th January 2023 6:10 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to present some very interesting and informative information – and some very nice photos. Nice one!

    • meagaidhadmin
      9th January 2023 7:39 pm

      Trying to emulate the photo quality of SAIS Southern Cairngorms’ blog but am totally outgunned by Paul’s impressive camera and lens collection!

      Many thanks for your comment, Roger.

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