Not very Snowy Ben Nevis.

17th December 2016

I was on Ben Nevis today. I was a bit concerned that for the first time as a forecaster I might not make it to any snow. However, I did manage to find a few patches at an altitude of around 800 meters. This was quite different to Aonach Mor where there is currently nothing below  about 1000 meters. This is probably due to the complex shape of the North Face of the Ben catching the snow which was blowing about. You get lots of local wind effects on the North Face, which can sometimes deposit windslab in some unexpected places.

Looking up towards the cliffs of Ben Nevis from below Observatory Gully.

The North Face of Ben Nevis disappearing into the cloud.

As I am sure you will have noticed, it is not the snowiest start to the avalanche season. However, a lot can change over a few weeks, an example of this being during the winter of 2013/14. At the start of the season there was hardly any snow on Aonach Mor. A month later there was loads of snow and great cover in the back cories of Aonach Mor (see pictures below). On the higher West Coast mountains it went on to be probably be the snowiest winter in about 20 years.

Aonach Mor on the 13th of December 2013. Like now there was was very little snow.

The Back Coires of Aonach Mor on the 14th of January 2014.  Loads of snow! Lets hope a similar transformation occurs this year. 

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