Beinn Ghlas

Today Craig was out with a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Skills team and I was out with Michael and Stephen looking at Avalanche Awareness and Safe Travel. We shared transport and visited Beinn Ghlas near Ben Lawers. 

Stephen and Michael inspecting a small cornice near the coire rim.

A little damp on the hill at times today. Not much snow below 950m and that mostly on north and east facing aspects. The snow is generally well saturated. Some ice is holding on and the turf was still firm above 900m and out of drainage lines.

Aonach Eagach

Today the team and I visited Glencoe and traversed the Aonach Eagach in good conditions. There is a video on the facebook page which shows the conditions on the pinnacles.

There was significant redistribution of snow and graupel today in strong winds. This will have created significant avalanche hazard in many locations and it is worth visiting the SAIS website before heading out.

At the start of the ridge.

At the start of the ridge.

Winter Mountain Leader Assessment

This week I have been helping to deliver a Winter Mountain Leader Assessment. Following a day in Glencoe and a day in Lochaber earlier in the week, the last three days have been in the Cairngorms.

Large volumes of snow have accumulated in the Cairngorms over the last couple of days. Given the weather on Saturday I would expect significant avalanche activity and careful attention should be paid to the SAIS forecasts.

Testing navigational conditions in the Cairngorms.

Testing navigational conditions in the Cairngorms.

 

Glencoe Ski Centre

Yesterday I was at Glencoe ski centre. Here we spent time looking at snow anchors, holding falls and understanding snow profiles.

There was still a good volume of snow for skills courses. The centre was closed for skiing.

Holding lead falls using a body belay and snow anchor.

Holding lead falls using a body belay and snow anchor.

Winter Skills and Avalanche Awareness

Over the past couple of days I have been out with a team looking at essential winter skills, micro navigation, avalanche awareness and avalanche rescue techniques.

Yesterday we visited Glencoe ski area and today we ascended Aonach Mor. There is good cover for skiing at both areas.

Of note is that there was significant spontaneous avalanches in Glencoe today.

Bill navigating in the white room.

Bill navigating in the white room.

Geal-charn

With the weather forecast to be very wet and windy on the west today the team and I opted to drive east to the Drummochter Pass. We were rewarded with a dry day and good periods of brightness.

During the day we covered skills such as the construction of snowholes and slope stability tests.

There is still excellent snow cover in the Drummochter Pass for ski touring.

Moving towards the summit of Geal-charn.

Moving towards the summit of Geal-charn.

WInter Lectures and Blo-Kart/X-Sail Training

On Thursday evening I was working with Davy Virdee delivering lectures on Scottish Winter and Avalanche Awareness and Avoidance. It was a good excuse to relive a few winter adventures and to get your mind back in to a more wintery mode. Thanks to everyone who attended, Davy for organising it and Alan for all his help on the evening.

A wintery Tower Ridge - one of the photos from the lecture

A wintery Tower Ridge – one of the photos from the lecture

Yesterday I was up at St Andrews with the Falkirk Community Trust Team doing some staff training on Blo-Karts and X-Sails with Tom from X-sail. These things aren’t my normal medium, but it was a fun and informative day.

X-sail and Blokart in action on the beach

X-sail and Blokart in action on the beach

Craig demonstrating how not to wear your helmet

Craig demonstrating how not to wear your helmet

A’Bhuidheanach Bheag, Drumochter

Susan and I were out today with a Falkirk High Tops Team of Alasdair, Bob, Lucy, Neil, Patricia, Rebecca and Rich. We were looking at Avalanche Awareness and Safe Route Choice; which felt very relevant given the current conditions on the Scottish hills.

A'Bhuidheanaich Bheag from the Allt a'Chaaorainn

A’Bhuidheanaich Bheag from the Allt a’Chaorainn

After discussing weather and avalanche forecasts over a coffee we headed up to Drumochter and used the slopes north of Allt a’Chaorainn on A’Bhuidheanach Bheag to look at how the forecasts related to what we encountered on the ground and how that might affect our thinking on picking a safe route on the hill.

There are some great features around the streams in this area, which give a range of aspects and hence a good variety of snowpacks.

Patricia taking the opportunity to look at a stable cornice feature

Patricia taking the opportunity to look at a stable cornice feature

Sunny pretty much all day with just the odd light snow shower on a North-Westerly wind. Plenty of wind movement of snow observed at higher elevations, although the winds felt lighter than forecast. Northerly winds overnight had created some unexpected pockets of fresh soft slab on Southerly aspects at relatively low altitudes. Skis or snow shoes would be very helpful for travel above 500m in the current deep and soft snow conditions.