A wild day in the mountains.

19th January 2024

A day of persistent and heavy drifting + a few instability ‘red flags’.

(Above) Cars on the A86 taking unplanned trips into the scenery due to snow presaged a pretty wild day in the mountains hereabouts. Plan ‘A’ venue for today’s foray was binned in favour of a less threatening location, or so I thought. All is calm on the new footpath up towards Na Cnapanan and Carn Liath, illuminated by sun in one of the few breaks in the cloud.


(Above) 550m on Na Cnapanan. Constant drifting here both in and out of showers. There was a plentiful supply of older snow available for drifting which the strong WSW winds readily picked up and dumped on to lee slopes.


(Above) 600m. Minor cornice developing here over a steep lee slope. Expecting cornices to be much more profound features over wind sheltered slopes and gullies at higher altitudes.


(Above) 620m. Keeping a good distance away from the cornice in the previous shot, this shooting crack disappeared 7 or 8m away in front of and similar distance behind me. Classic instability ‘red flag’.


(Above) 625m on a neighbouring lee slope. Another shooting crack. Also long. Feeling properly spooked, I beat a hasty retreat!


(About) A brief weather window and some visibility. Sron a Ghoire – subject of a photo on Thursday – with the E-facing flank of its NE ridge now more comprehensively loaded with windslab.

A few things for you to think about for Saturday: new snow avalanches, collapsing cornices and, later, wet snow avalanches. And I didn’t even mention the wind or weather!

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