Unfortunately, I had to drive down to Derbyshire today, so it’s a brief and slightly odd report. Ski touring conditions in the Pentlands looked great. By Tinto the vegetation was showing through the snow. Snow wasn’t deep west of
the M74, little more than a dusting. Crossfell, Helvellyn and the South Lakes looked to have a good cover of snow and there was promising ice forming on the cuttings south of Shap.
In Coire an Dothaidh above Bridge of Orchy today with an Adventure Edinburgh Winter Walking group. Only a light dusting of fresh snow in the coire, but plenty of ice and frozen streams and the odd patch of hard old neve so we concentrated on crampon work and took a journey around the coire. The group did well, especially as for 9 of them it was their first time in crampons.
Turf was generally well frozen. Ice is forming on things like Salamander Gully. There’s only a dusting of snow at crag level, but hard old snow higher up. Met one climbing party who’d climbed The Second Coming, reporting well frozen turf, but not a lot of snow.
Out today in the North-East coire of Ben an Dothaidh with Pamela. One other party headed for the obvious choice of West Buttress (but chose to do a line further right). We headed up a possible new line through the crags on the right of Emel Ridge at about III,3 to join Emel Ridge (II) after about 80m. The line started circa 150m up from the base of Emel ridge and climbed a slabby corner with regular turf ledges to a belay in a roofed crack. This was followed by a leftwards traverse on flakes to gain a stepped groove leading to easier ground and Emel Ridge.
The turf was well frozen. Snow cover started thinly from the coire floor (very little on the Femme Fatale area), but the major gullies and the upper section of Emel ridge had a good cover of firm snow. Ice is forming. Below freezing at crag height all day. Fresh north-west wind and no significant snow fall on the hill before 4pm.
Craig, John and Nigel were out today on the Mess of Pottage. They climbed Hidden Chimney Direct start before abseiling off due to the wild weather. The corrie was quiet. One other team attempted Pateys Route before retreating due to it being in poor condition
There is large amounts of fresh snow now present in the Cairngorms.
Out with Gregor and an Adventure Edinburgh winter walking group today on Geal Charn (Drumochter). We were doing some navigation, snow pack awareness and boot work as it was the first time out in the Scottish hills in snow for many of the party.
There was broken soft snow cover from 550m. We were below the freezing level all day, but didn’t get much over the 800m mark. Turf wasn’t frozen at this level and there was no significant icing. There’s significant build up on higher north and north-east aspects in the area after the strong winds late last week. Some light snow showers during the day on a circa 10 mph north-east wind.
Out with the Falkirk High Tops team in Coire an t-Sneachda today. What was scheduled as a scramble in the Lakes changed into a Winter Skills refresher on the basis of the forecast and this turned out to be a good decision. After some movement skills, a look at the snow pack and a quick chat about safe travel we headed up through broken ground near the Goat Track and then round to descend Fiacaill a’ Choire Chais. One party climbing on the Fiacaill Buttress and a skier making the most of the snow around the Alladin’s and the crag apron.
Freezing level was probably up around/above plateau level, but there wasn’t much thawing going on above 900m. Fairly good snow cover with scoured areas. The snow was being moved around on a circa 30mph South to South-westerly, depositing significant wind slab and with the wind increasing towards the end of the day. Several layers observed within the snow pack with some fairly easy shears of the recently deposited wind slab. Gullies and new soft/building cornices would be areas of concern particularly with new snow depositing and temperatures rising. Plenty of rime on the crags and some icing from the boulders upwards. Larger areas of turf not fully frozen, but turf may well have been frozen on the crags. Thanks to Craig McLauren for the photos.