Beinn a Chaorainn in the mist & murk

19th February 2024

(Above) The East Ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn. Save for the exit ramps, just a few isolated patches of old snow hither & thither on this popular ridge route.


(Above) Ghosts of avalanches past. The steep east-facing backwall in small cirque to the south of the East Ridge. Debris in excess of a week old here. Misty and quite damp today with a flurry or two of snowfall around midday. Noticed a few minor glide cracks opening up in some of the steeply inclined old snow beds in the environs of the coire. Some potential for small full depth avalanches, though more likely in present conditions from the steep snow-laden benches and shelves on the Post Face of Coire Ardair.


(Above) Evidence of fairly recent rockfall on top of this old avalanche debris tip.


(Above) The bottom of the cirque. Increasingly patchy cover . Snow now pinned back to places above about 750m.

Comments on this post

  • Keith Horner
    19th February 2024 7:40 pm

    Just begun reading the new biography of Raeburn. On his first visit to Coire Ardair in 1896, in what today would appear to be classic high/very high risk avalanche conditions, he and his party were caught in 2 avalanches whilst attempting Centre Post. Undeterred, they returned the next day to witness a full depth avalanche from somewhere on the upper Post Face – ‘the older snow was coming down mixed with earth, stone and all kinds of detritus’ – which crossed their tracks and would have surely have had grave consequences if they were in its path. So some early historical evidence of the full depth avalanche potential of the Post Face during periods of continued thaw – better have your camera at the ready…..

    • meagaidhadmin
      19th February 2024 9:47 pm

      Can you give us a link to the book title, Keith?

      (Reminds me of a not too disimilar tale of woe concerning a certain general secretary of the BMC who got avalanched twice on the same day in Easy Gully. Little known fact!)

  • Keith Horner
    20th February 2024 7:48 am

    Harold Raeburn – The Steps of a Giant by Peter J Biggar, just published recently by Scottish Mountaineering Press

    • meagaidhadmin
      20th February 2024 8:10 am

      Just pre-ordered it!

      Many thanks, Keith.

  • David Bell
    20th February 2024 9:46 am

    I am reading the book at the moment, an excellent read. Raeburn visits Easy Gully and says “Even at the end of October, all the gullies of any size held masses of old hard snow, testifying to the cold wet summer of 1903”.
    Any idea of when snow last survived the summer on Meagaidh?

    • meagaidhadmin
      20th February 2024 10:37 am

      Can’t say for sure but Iain Cameron might be able to help.

      In terms of location, my guess would be that minor old snow patches would linger longest at the top of ‘Cinderella’ (NNE-facing and about 1050m) in the Inner Coire, the NNW-facing crags above Lochain Uaine and at the top end of Raeburn’s own eponymous gully. Easy Gully might be a good shout too. I’ll see if I can find some satellite images of the area in a few different summers. I think Google Earth Pro might have that functionality.

      Edit. Found one. Not sure of the year or whether it was summer (or mid February!) but more likely spring. The arrows indicate the locations I mention above, clockwise from the left: x2 above Lochain Uaine, ‘Cinderella’, Easy Gully and Raeburn’s Gully.

      Summer snow patches

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