The Coire of the People
11th March 2023
(Above) Sron a Ghoire and the Post Face of Coire Ardair. Stellar day and a more or less full car park. Lots of happy, smiling faces on those I met over the course of the day.
(Above) One of our forecasters was running a Chris Walker Memorial Trust course at ‘Meggie today. The idea of this particular course was to give participants a flavour of what SAIS avalanche forecasters do in a practical way to work out stability and overall avalanche hazard. More about the Trust and its aims here: https://www.chriswalkertrust.co.uk/
(Above) The money shot. Raeburn’s Gully, Pinnacle Buttress and the Post Face of Coire Ardair under azure skies. Better snow cover is definitely above 850m with only ribbons of older snow-ice in gullies below this altitude.
(Above) Bumped into Diane and Mark from Cupar in Fife enjoying the alpine ambience. They had ‘ringside seats’ for viewing the steady, rhythmic upward progress of several teams of climbers on Post Face routes in upper Coire Ardair.
(Above) The Pinnacle, Easy Gully and a view across the Post Face. A climber on the lower pitches of Centre Post is just visible near the centre of the shot. ‘Last Post’ – also visible – was a popular choice today though was not in prime condition (when it’s blue, wide and ‘fat’).
(Above) The NE-facing crags of the Inner Coire of Coire Ardair. Several teams here, too. ‘The Wand’ got an ascent and other teams were on lower-grade routes on the crags immediately west of ‘Cinderella’ – the prominent gully hereabouts.
(Above) The Window. This high bealach is normally choked with snow by this time of year, but not so at the moment.
(Above) The NW-facing slopes at 1000m above Lochan Uaine, SW of The Window. Lots of sparkly surface hoar crystals here and elsewhere on shaded slopes.
(Above) Near Lochan Uaine again. In addition to surface hoar, we have a snowpack topped off with layers that are chockful of sugary facetted grains. The blocky snow nearest the camera was all weakly supported and failed readily when subjected to field tests. Crack propagation wasn’t profound today but a fair amount of Sunday’s snowfall is going to accumulate in these and similar but much steeper places where stability will be poor, especially as the temperature rises later.
I found a pair of sunglasses today. If they’re yours, leave a message in the comments below describing them: colour of the frames and the brand.
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12th March 2023 7:24 pm
Hello! I wonder if those sunglasses might be mine… we climbed and then skied Easy Gully on Tuesday, and as we set off for the walk back I put my hand in my jacket and found an open pocket full of snow rather than my sunglasses! They are tortoiseshell RayBans (a tried and tested model for the amateur alpine enthusiast, I’m sure your readers will agree).
Long time reader but first time commenter; thank you (to you, and all the SAIS forecasters) for your excellent work on these blogs – they are so useful when we’re in the highlands, and a constant source of inspiration when we’re away.
12th March 2023 7:48 pm
We have a winner!
(Sam, you have mail.)