Deep Drifts & Breakable Crust

6th February 2022

A very wintery scene in Lochaber today with snow lying down to around 100m.  There were frequent heavy snow showers interspersed occasionally with some better visibility.  Significant drifting was taking place above 600m, re-distributing the  existing snow and fresh snow onto leeward slopes.  Unstable windslab is present above 600m on North through East to South aspects.  All change again tomorrow as the freezing level rises rapidly above the summits in the morning accompanied by rain.  Expect some wet snow avalanche activity and cornice collapse.

The view up to the North Face of Ben Nevis this morning from ‘Graham’s Tree’.  Fresh snow at low levels and stormy conditions high up.  The snow on the right hand side of the tree trunk illustrates the prevailing westerly wind direction.

Significant drifting above 600m.  Some of these drifts were literally thigh deep and interspersed with breakable crust to add to the challenging underfoot conditions!

Looking up No 5 Gully.  It’s not obvious on this photo but there is debris from a Size 2 avalanche below the gully which will have occurred sometime in the last 24 hours.  In total< I noted 5 lines of avalanche debris in Coire na Ciste.

If you look closely on the left hand side of the photo, you can see avalanche debris which has run out of No 3 Gully.

A party crossing the East facing slopes below No 4 Gully.

A shower of Graupel added to the challenging conditions in Coire na Ciste today.  If a layer of graupel becomes buried it can create a weak layer within the snowpack.  This is unlikely to happen with this graupel as we are expecting thaw conditions tomorrow at all elevations.

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