Jekyll and Hyde

20th February 2024

Two very stark and different personalities to Creag Meagaidh today. I was quickly lured into Coire Ardair by the spring like snow distribution which was illuminated by the sun. It was only when I was fully committed to the coire that it displayed Machiavellian traits.

It was cold (but not cold enough), aggressive, and ruthlessly exploited my enthusiasm as I was pelted by rain and blown over. Shortly after dusting myself off I met a party of American visitors who had come to the coire to check out the climbing conditions. I really wanted to extol the virtues of Scottish winter climbing, it is after all in our DNA. But as I raised a hand to point out the waterfalls that were actually classic ice climbs, I was saved the embarrassment by nearly getting blown over again.

After a damp and particularly dreich spell, the clouds started to break a little allowing the lower slopes to receive some transient warmth. The snow is really confined to the main gully lines, coire rims and steeper open slopes at higher elevations at the moment. The good news is that, despite the signs of some glide cracks, the easier gullies look to be unbroken. As the temperature falls overnight and through tomorrow these should firm up, slowing the thaw.

Some snow is anticipated tomorrow early in the day, followed by rain turning back to snow as the freezing level drops late in the day. There will be some isolated windslab development later, but this is likely to be limited to the very end of the day and moderately bonded due to the temperature regime. In any case it makes sense to mention it to give a full picture.

The winds will remain strong to gale force again tomorrow, no doubt the down drafting, and turbulent winds will be aggressive again in Coire Ardair.


Nice conditions this morning. Although the high winds cannot be seen, the unbroken snow in the major gully lines of ‘Raeburn’s Gully’ and ‘Easy Gully’ are pleasing on the eye.


The major waterfalls represent the following ice climbs (left to right): The Last Post V,5, South Post Direct V,4, Centre Post III.


Bellevue Buttress, Raeburn’s Gully Buttress, Pinnacle Buttress and the Post Face seen through sheets of rain.


This attractive north facing gully line lies directly above Lochan a’Choire and is clearly visible on the map. It often holds snow and *might* make a good ski descent. A unique experience being on ones skis in steep terrain, with just competence for company. That said, today’s soft snow will be firm (potentially bullet proof) tomorrow making any remaining patches of snow like this very consequential regardless of the mode of travel.

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