Ben Alder…

21st February 2024

Another wet and mild day for the most part. A dusting of fresh snow fell overnight down to around 700 metres, but quickly started to thaw in the rising temperatures. Later the freezing level dropped and snow showers resumed, on the summits at least.

A distinct change is anticipated overnight and for the next twenty four hours as colder temperatures and snow return. We expect snow to fall throughout daylight hours tomorrow above 400 metres. This is likely stick on bare ground giving minimal hazard. However, at higher elevations around coire rims and scarp slopes, windslab development is expected particularly where this overlies the older snowpack. Accumulations will build as the day progresses, becoming more extensive later on and will be universally sensitive due to the colder temperatures.

The step change between relatively static spring like conditions and an emerging windslab problem will require vigilance tomorrow. Conditions will change quickly as the day progresses.


Culra Lodge with the ‘Long Leachas’ directly behind. The summit visible on the right is Sgòr Iutharn 1010m (Geal Charn – of which there are many is hidden behind). The blunt ridge dropping down towards Culra is the ‘Lancet Edge’ an impressive scramble in summer, or a long grade I mountaineering expedition in the winter.


Isolated seasonal snow patches and ribbons are hanging on here on Ben Alder. Quite a few patches were evident above 700 metres.


Another view of the ‘Lancet Edge”, the snow filled Coire an Sgòir lying up and to the right.


‘Alderwand’ the evocative image of one of Scotland’s finest remote mountaineering routes featured in the SMC’s Ben Nevis guidebook published in 1994. Roger Everett is pictured presumably on the first ascent with Simon Richardson in 1987. The large face in Garbh Choire Beag is alleged to resemble the ‘Nordwand’ i.e. the North Face of the Eiger, hence the name Alderwand…


Looking towards the Drumochter Hills to the east of the A9 from An Tochailt. The burn lines of Coire nan Cisteachan are visible just to the left of the track which climbs to A’Bhuidheanach. The snowline here was around 700 metres in the morning, but rising slightly later.

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