The last 5 days has seen some really mixed weather. On Saturday we had milder weather with some spindrifts. Because of this the snow gates to Cairn Gorm Mountain were not open. Therefore we went to Drumochter, which had some really good snow conditions. The snow was a bit soft, but really good for doing the sliding skills like ice axe arrest. Sunday looked like much the same but according to other people there were some inversions.
Monday we managed to go high and saw some impressive inversions from 1000m. This meant that we managed to see all the higher tops, while the glens were foggy. When we walked up for the snow-holing on Tuesday the weather was great with some hillfog. However, when we started digging it all cleared up. The snow was in part very easy to dig and we had our snowholes ready after 2 hours. This called for a beer, opened with an ice axe (number one mountaineering tool). We started to do some navigation to get to the summit of Cairn Gorm. The visibility was very poor and you could stand 20m away from a big feature like the weather station on the summit or a ski tow and not see it. We then bailed out early in the morning as there were SSE winds gusting up to 60 mph forecast.
This weekend we had some mixed weather. The avalanche report reflected all the fresh snow we received in the last few days. On Saturday we went up to Coire na Ciste for building emergency snow shelters and checking on the avalanche conditions. We also did some ice axe arresting and cutting steps on some neve snow nearby. On Sunday we headed down to Drumochter because the snow gates at Cairn Gorm were not open. There we encountered a lot of deep snow, which at times was knee deep.
The start of the 24-28 February winter mountaineering course saw some really good weather and mostly low avalanche risks. However, the beast from the east with Siberian winds was looming. By the last night when we were out snowholing it hit us. In the morning we had zero visibility and temperatures of -10C or colder. Therefore we just walked straight down the hill. Just before we got to the Ptarmigan Station near Cairngorm I managed to fall down a wee drop. I ended up in soft snow coming up to my armpits, to the amusement of everyone else. 🙂
This weeks course was fantastic with some good winter weather. Monday has stripped some of the thinner snow lower down, when it rained at summit level, but high up it managed to consolidate very well into nevee at most areas above 800m.
The snowholing from Tuesday was really good at Ciste Mhearidh. There were some hard layers but even though it was some crafting we managed to finish digging after 4 1/2 hours. It’s not the fastest but not the slowest snowhole digging I have done. In the morning we were rewarded with some fantastic sunrise scenery.
The weather was quite variable with high winds on Saturday and some mild conditions creeping up to summit level on Sunday. Even on higher ground the fresh snow was well bonded.
Had an excellent group this weekend and everyone has learned a lot of new skills and it was pretty good fun.
Even though it was very windy with gusts up to 60mph on summits we managed to find some good, sheltered areas to practice all the skills on our winter skills course.
Went up to Ciste Mhearad to have a look at the snow conditions high up. There seems to be a quite good cover of deep snow on northerly aspects. This would be due to the high southerly winds we had over the last week or so. One in Ciste Mhearad I noticed that the stream which should be covered in snow by now is still visible. However, there is a lot of deep snow on some of the steeper slopes in the corrie and some snowholes from last weekend are a proof of the depth already developed.
Today was a bit of a wild day at Cairn Gorm with high winds from the south, spindrift and the clouds at about 800m. Visibility was pretty much zero and I could only see anything standing out within 20-40m. Being at the front meant I saw only white.
The snow this weekend was excellent, because the low pressure system “Caroline” has brought some heavy snowfall. Snow came down from Thursday night till Saturday morning and covered those bare hills in a white coating. The snow is in some sheltered places up to knee deep and in most places ankle deep. We should get really good conditions, with a weather forecast promising more snowfall and cold conditions in the mountains.
The snow has thinned a little with milder weather on Saturday. There is still a good base at from about 800m. With some more snow later in the week it should consolidate nicely… we hope. It was a bit craggy with some wind higher up. The snow had a nice crust at placed, but deeper snow collapsed under the foot easily.