East End

5th March 2024

(Above) The east end of the Carn Liath massif viewed from Blargie nr Laggan. Left to right: Coire nan Gall, Coire Dubh and Coire a Bheinn. Something happened to the snow cover. An incursion of much milder air seems to have removed a fair amount of the superfical cover at lower altitudes. Noticeably less cold near summits later in the day too.


(Above) The trig pillar at 767m on Carn Dubh. NW-facing Coire a Bheinn, with its recently formed cornices, in the centre of the photo. Top of the skyline is at 903m. We had a little bit of snow overnight but the area was affected more by the redistribution of pre-existing snow lying on the ground.


(Above) A re-entrant at just shy of 900m with cornices almost the same size as the ones above Coire a Bheinn itself – visible right of shot. Humid snow everywhere here. Coldest snowpack temperature I measured today was -1.6 degrees C. 30cm down from the snow surface, which is expected to ease to near zero overnight. In these situations, slowly easing temperatures in the snowpack normally encourage the snow to consolidate. However, the recently formed cornices – unsupported cantilevers of snow – are all expected to be of suspect stability overnight and during the day.


(Above) The Carn Liath plateau. Coire Dubh to the left. The line of posts point towards Carn Liath summit. Crags of part of the Inner Coire of Coire Ardair visible to the right of Carn Liath. The keen-eyed amongst you may also recognise the snowy ridge of Coire Chriochairien – far right. Quite windy up here today.


(Above) The beach at the eastern end of Loch Laggan. Looked like conditions suitable for candy floss and deck chairs down there this afternoon. Hyperbole! Not to be taken seriously! Edit: Disputed. See Comments section. (It definitely reminded me of when I worked in the Northern Cairngorms, fighting my way through foul weather to get back to the Coire Cas car park and occasionally getting a somewhat absurd glimpse of an illuminated Loch Morlich beach bathed in what looked like warm sunshine.)

Comments on this post

  • Keith Horner
    5th March 2024 6:18 pm

    I recall reading somewhere a long time ago that Scotland has the greatest extent of temperature difference between the tops and bottoms of our mountains relative to the altitude gain involved. So quite feasible to be scoffing ice cream in a T shirt on the sands of Loch Morlich in +15 degrees whilst others battle arctic conditions of -10 degrees or greater on the plateau – ie 25 degrees of temperature difference in c3000ft….

    • meagaidhadmin
      5th March 2024 6:28 pm

      Scientific proof!

      Great knowledge. A new one for me, Keith. Every day is a schoolday.

      Many thanks for your comment.

  • Rhys Jaggar
    6th March 2024 7:21 am

    Keith – my experience of the Scottish mountains is that the ‘effective temperature difference’ when taking wind chill into account is equally explosive in nature – I well remember feeling fine in a ‘normal’ winter bobble hat 100m below the summit of one of the Fannaich Munros in the winter of 1986/7 and then feeling like my face was turning to ice upon reaching the summit due to the incredible increase in wind speed. Needless to say, I neither stayed on the summit too long, nor did I delay my purchase of a Balaclava beyond the next trip out into the Winter Highlands…..

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