Surprise Snow!

25th March 2018

So today is a good example of why it is important to read the entire Avalanche Report and not just look at the colourful Hazard Rose.

The observant amongst you will have noticed that a Low hazard was forecast for today but a Considerable Hazard was actually issued. The devil as always is in the details!

So if you only looked at the Hazard Rose before you went out you would have been expecting Low Hazard today and may have been slightly confused (I hope). Worst case, you would be busy soldiering on thinking “report said Low Hazard therefore thats what it must be”

If you actually read the details of the forecast you would have noticed that Avalanche Hazard as described is entirely dependant on the quoted weather forecast. As the quoted weather conditions did not reflect what happened overnight, clearly the stated Avalanche Report will be incorrect.

So when you were walking up the Ben this morning, feeling the fairly heavy snow showers coming through, then later when you were breaking trail through fresh snow, some warning bells should have been going off!

Instead of the “light snow showers” as expected, there had clearly been some fairly heavy snow showers overnight and this morning. Instead of “snow accumulations are likely but not expected to be of significant depth” and you are wading through consistent fresh snow up to 30cms depth, it is clear that things are not as expected.

In this case you will need to make your own adjustments to the published report to reflect the current snow and weather conditions. Hope that make sense!


Quite a few teams enjoying Ben Nevis today. A few actually climbing and a few backing off routes due to the approaches “not feeling right” Indeed in Observatory Gully and Coire na Ciste there were significant accumulations of graupel (these things that look like polystyrene balls) which didn’t help that safe feeling!

Its snowing in these showers!

An atmospheric North Face

The lower cascades looking good

The resident Snow Bunting at the CIC Hut

A team in Zero

Graupel in the snowpack

A couple of climbers approaching the bottom of Observatory Gully

A couple of teams on Hadrians and an empty Point Five

Carn Dearg Buttress

Descending down towards the CIC Hut


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