Schrödinger’s Turf

9th February 2024

Bitterly cold today in the easterly winds and constant snow showers. It is starting to look more wintery and snow fall is expected overnight, although the exact quantities are subject to some uncertainty given the presence of a weather system tracking up the North Sea.

Hopefully the showers will track down Strathspey and penetrate into the Creag Meagaidh area, giving a return to a more robust form of winter. Currently there are accumulations of soft windslab in sheltered locations, and these are sensitive where they overlie the older snowpack. Tomorrow these are anticipated to become more extensive but remain localised due to cross loading under turbulent winds. A wild and bitterly cold day is in prospect for tomorrow.


The cliffs of Coire Ardair. Bitterly cold today as demonstrated by the distinct absence of wild swimmers. Some slow ice development can be seen on the big ice lines which fall into the narrow slanting couloir of ‘Easy Gully’.



Some spectacular (and slightly brain jellying) steep terrain in the recess of ‘Eastern Corner’. But good to see it sporting some ice given the recent mild spell…



It cleared just as I was making my way out of Coire Ardair, and I managed to sneak this quick shot. High up around the edge of the plateau and in the multi aspect gullies fresh accumulations of new snow (and soft windslab) were present. Creag Meagaidh is most famous for the classic ice routes, but there is plenty of mixed climbing potential here as well on the vegetated cliffs. Given the bitter easterly wind and the absence of insulating snow, firm turf blobs are likely.



Schrödinger’s Turf. Those familiar with the ethics of winter climbing will know of the requirement for frozen turf. Not only does this prevent taking unexpectedly to the air, but also minimises damage to the vegetation clinging on to these compact cliffs. Was the turf frozen, or was it not? Well this is Schrödinger’s Turf, simultaneously both frozen and unfrozen until its state can be observed…

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