Early drizzle and poor viz
6th February 2023
(Above) L to R: Raeburn’s Gully, Pinnacle Buttress, the Post Face of Coire Ardair and a misty glimpse into the Inner Coire of Coire Ardair. Early drizzle at all levels this morning has moistened the near-surface layers of the snowpack a little but nevertheless, firm underfoot conditions prevail above 900m. Some (fairly recent?) full-depth avalanche debris noted at the base of Raeburn’s Gully which almost certainly emanated from the very steep crags of Pinnacle Buttress.
Full-depth avalanches are not untypical events on our patch a few days after significant snowfall followed by sustained milder temperatures. They are not included as part of the overall picture of stability & hazard category since they are fickle, unpredictable events whose release characteristics are not yet fully understood by snow scientists. We do mention the possibility of them occurring but it’s a bit of a ‘best guess’ more than anything else. We get quite a few of these events at certain times which add to Creag Meagaidh’s unique ‘charm’!
(Above) Easy Gully and part of the Post Face of Coire Ardair. Free water noted running at the lower end of most of the drainage lines on the Post Face today. Remnants of fallen ice litter the bottom of the gully. Also apparent below Centre Post is some minor full-depth avalanche debris right of centre of photo.
Poor visibility up high + camera issues today so thanks to Bob M for his camera phone shots whilst up near Lochan a Choire.
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6th February 2023 5:46 pm
I am so sorry that this season (yet again) is so far very poor.
And……for no particular reason…..does anyone use the shelter stone anymore?
6th February 2023 8:39 pm
….and the weather outlook for the next week or so makes little mention of snowfall 🙁
6th February 2023 7:17 pm
I’d speculate that a variable combination of ground surface characteristics, slope gradient and aspect, snow depth/weight/degree of compaction and some form of lubrication between snowpack and ground all contribute in some way to full depth avalanches. I’ve seen them on the SE slopes of A’ Mharconnaich from the A9, the east facing coire below the summit of Am Faochagach above Glascarnoch, the southern slopes of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan above Affric Hostel and on the Great Slab in Coire na Lochain, plus you’ve recorded them on Sron a Ghoire several times I recall and also from the buttresses above Raeburns. So some varied locations from which no obvious pattern seems initially discernable. Probably not advisable to deliberately search them out given their unpredictability but as more are observed and a picture of prevailing weather conditions etc is built up around their occurrence, we might begin to get some degree of better understanding of their causes.
And yes, Stan, I did use the Shelter Stone a few years ago – had to partially dig it out despite the surrounding area being snow free but a very comfortable way to spend the night – just don’t sit upright quickly when you wake up unless you’re sleeping in your helmet….
6th February 2023 9:24 pm
Some great observations and examples, Keith.
Seeing as we’re on the subject, here’s a bit of full-depth avalanche porn from seasons past for everyone to enjoy 😉
An Cearcallach 23rd March 2015:
Different year but not far away was this one on Creag Tharsuinn (24th February 2014):
And the Great Slab over in the Northern Cairngorms on 19th April 2014:
Map to locate it:
6th February 2023 10:08 pm
Thank you for the replies. 🙂
7th February 2023 9:30 am
Ha – avalanche porn…. there’s a novelty! Gives me images of SAIS forecasters drooling over photos of avalanche debris and competing for biggest full depth avalanche of the year….
Some scary images there – the Great Slab looks positively alpine….