Nothing to see Here!

27th January 2023

After some clear conditions overnight it was a cloudy and claggy day. I decided to head up the Ben hoping to be able to see who conditions were developing higher on the mountain. Unfortunately, the cloud stayed down and I failed to see much at all. After a slightly milder night today, a very similar day is expected tomorrow. Not much change is expected in the snowpack.

Not very wintry looking Carn Dearg. Interesting that this this is called Carn Dearg Buttress, it seems to me to be a bit of a misnomer.  Carn means heap of stones or stoney hill (and is also the origin of the English word cairn). Dearg means Red. Most of the hills names in Lochaber are Gaelic, and make sense. Carn Mor Dearg for example is a large stoney hill which has a red hue due it consisting of pinkish granite. In the photo here, the lighter coloured slab in the foreground is made of the pink inner granite which Carn Mor Dearg consists off. Above the much darker Carn Dearg buttress consists of Andesite Lavas and could never really be described as red. Perhaps the name of the buttress corresponds to the hill the it looks across at, or perhaps there is another reason.

Ice on grass at about 750 metres. This would have formed overnight when clear skies allowed the temperature to drop.  This had frozen the surface layers of the snowpack. The snowpack is hard and icy throughout, with slips and slides probably being the most significant mountain hazard at the moment.

Looking up Observatory Gully. Not much to see. Although it had been a clear night, it was not a clear day.

Some sections of cornice remain at the tops of the gullies. Although the stability of these has tended to improve, there are still some sections that should be treated with care as shown in the photo. I am not sure how solid the cracked bit is, but decided to to find out through personal testing!

Comments on this post

  • Matt Dalby
    28th January 2023 6:07 am

    Gaelic speaking locals named prominent landscape features such as mountains, corries, lochans, burns etc. but I’m not sure they’d name every part of a mountain. For example is there any evidence that any of the Nevis gullies or ridges e.g. Tower Ridge, Castle Ridge, Observatory Gully etc. ever had Gaelic names before they were named by English climbers. May be Carn Dearg Buttress was named by English climbers who thought the name sounded suitably Gaelic but didn’t really understand the language.

    • lochaberadmin
      30th January 2023 6:15 pm

      Hi Matt, Good point. I suspect you are correct in that the buttress was named by English speaking early climbers who may or may not have understood the what Carn Dearg meant, but wanted some way to refer to that part of the mountain.

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