Saturday, January 31, 2009

A windy day

From the valley the Cairngorms looked superb but the reality was Southerly gusts of up to 125mph with a mean wind of around 100mph over the summit of Cairngorm. The melt freeze cycle over the last 24 hours has improved the climbing conditions which also tempted many climbers into the Corrie. Lots of people ended up retreating uttering comments such as "well I'm 16 stone and even I got blown off my feet" Not much hope for an 8 stone observer were my thoughts but we did manage to walk up to 950 metres and dig our pit on the Fiacaill of Sneachda ridge.

Climbers head up to the bottom of Jacobs ladder.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another sunny day

We were joined today by Mark who is doing a radio piece on the avalanche information service. You can listen to it on the "Out of Doors" program which will be aired on BBC radio Scotland between 7am and 8am this Saturday or 11am on Sunday. Failing that you can log onto where it will be aired for a week afterwards.

The skiing is good on the plateau at the moment especially on the South and East side of Cairngorm.

Looking over to Beinn Mheadhoin.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stunning day in the Cairngorms

Views over to Etchachan.

Looking out towards the path into Sneachda.

Coire an t-Sneachda today.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wind and snow

Today’s pit was on a North-West aspect at 1020 metres. There is a lot of graupel within the new snowpack which helped to contribute to unstable windslab accumulations.

Graupel is quite common in Scotland. It is basically a snow crystal which becomes rimed whilst still in the atmosphere, often completely covering the original type of crystal. It is recognised by its rounded ball bearing type appearance and can be less than a millimetres in size. Because of its shape graupel can significantly contribute to an unstable snowpack

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Nice conditions all round

It was a great day to be in the Cairngorms today with blue sky's and moderate winds. Many people were out ski touring, the Northern Corries were fairly busy also. The gully lines are filled mainly with firm snow and the buttresses are very white, a lot of the existing ice is buried just now.

Recent avalanche debris on a NE aspect at 1100m.

Carn Etchachan and Shelter Stone.

Cairngorm summit

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Temperatures remained cold

It remained cold in the Cairngorms at higher altitudes with a slight thaw at lower levels.
Below is Coire an t-Sheachda and Lochain.

Trainee search dog Einich assesses the snow conditions.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cold and clear.

Conditions in the Cairngorms were very pleasant today after yesterday's windy weather. The photo below shows some old avalanche debris lying on a North aspect in Ciste Mhearad at 1100 metres presumably triggered from the heavy drifting the day before. The very cold snowpack has become more firm and is slowly stabilising.

Coire an t-Sneachda today.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Heavy drifting

Strong winds have led to a lot of snow transportation leaving some quite deep drifts in places even at low altitudes.

Looking over towards Lurcher's Crag.
Snow billowing around in the Northern Corries.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Day of two Halfs !

Looking into Coire Chais and Sneachda after the storm of the morning - snow distribution is quite obvious.
It has cleared up to become a calm and clear afternoon
Deep snow drifts don't help the walking!

Very unstable snowpack at the moment!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wintry in the hills

Snow has returned to the Cairngorms and significant drifting has led to deep drifts and cornices developing on lee slopes at quite low altitudes. It is still quite wind scoured in exposed areas due to the strong Southerly winds. Today's pit was dug on a NNE aspect on the Chais Ridge on 20 degree slope and tests showed poor snowpack stability.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Unsettled conditions

This photo of the Northern Corries was taken around midday today. The most recent snowfall is re-freezing again and bears a thin crust. Elsewhere the older snow is still very firm, conditions are to remain generally unsettle with more snowfall and high winds forecast over the weekend.

A friendly Snow Bunting coming to say hello.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Strong winds and No visibility

No picture today as we couldn't see anything. 
Gusts of 110mph  on Cairngorm summit. !
Most of the overnight snow seemed to have accumulated lower down the hill at around 900m but some wet new stuff fringes the corrie rim and will be present in the top of gullies. I expected to see avalanche debris in the deposition zones but I couldn't see very far . 
I would be very surprised if there has not been avalanche activity on North aspects elsewhere.
To get colder overnight with more snow Friday evening.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cold with a dusting of new snow

Looking down Jacobs ladder in Coire an t Sneachda
More snow overnight with strong winds then rising temperatures will create potential avalanche activity early thursday morning on Northerly aspects

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cold with Refrozen snow

Climber on Mess of Potage area Sneachda

The area has been well scoured of fresh snow and provides at the moment very good hard snow conditions. Buttresses genearally dry with a dusting of snow, ground is hard and frozen

Monday, January 12, 2009

Turning colder

Its been less windy today with cooler temperatures after yesterday's big thaw. The Northern Corries are still holding plenty of snow which is firming up again and as you can see from the pictures there is a dusting of fresh snow and the main gully lines are still complete.
Below is Aladdin's Buttress, Trident Gullies with the Goat track on the right.

Coire an t-Sneachda today.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mild and Stormy

A stormy view of the Northern Corries.

The temperature steadily rose during the night to plus 2.5 degrees on the summit of Cairngorm.  Strong winds (gusts of 116mph) and rain accompanied this melting a substantial amount of yesterdays snowfall.  

Saturday, January 10, 2009

High winds,snow and heavy rain

Conditions have been and still are very wild in the Cairngorms today. The wind speed was over 100 mph and snow turned to heavy rain at lower levels by the afternoon. We did manage to get up to the Ciste car park today and our pit was dug up on the East side of the Ciste gully. Stormy weather is forecast for the rest of the weekend, its that time of year!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Dry with spindrift

Although the Cairngorms looked calm and clear from below it was very wild and cold at higher altitudes. There was a lot of spindrift being carried on a strong South-West wind loading North to East aspects.
Mountaineering assistant Lucy braves the weather and below spindrift builds on N to E aspects.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Crusty snowcover

The snowcover has improved in the Cairngorms over the past few days but a thin crust is making conditions underfoot harder work than usual.

Clearer conditions towards the East.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Mild and Calm on the tops

Looking toward Bein Mheadhoin from Cairngorm
Calm and clear on the tops with crusted soft snow at all levels

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cold and snowy

It's been snowing all night and day in the Cairngorms. The new snow is lying on a layer of buried surface hoar, which is sitting on the old hard snow. This has lead to unstable conditions where there is significant depth. Today's snowpit was done on a South-East aspect at 1110 metres, and here you can see the weakness within the snowpack as the block of snow slides off the old snow-ice below.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Cold and cloudy

Although stability is generally good there are pockets of instability mainly on North-East to South aspects above 1000 metres.
Also there have been reports of unsuspecting climbers accidently knocking boulders down.
Take care out there!

Friday, January 02, 2009

A winter Scene

Summit temperatures were very cold today and there was a light dusting of fresh snow at all levels. Below is a seasonal winter scene of the Northern Corries with a frozen Loch Morlich in the foreground.
Bynack More summit.

Looking down onto Loch Morlich.