Avalanche Day (Again).

11th February 2024

An interesting snowpack on Aonach Mor today with two avalanches being recorded this morning. One was in Coire an Lochan below the Web area, the other was in Coire Dubh, close to where yesterday’s avalanche occurred. The former avalanche was triggered, and it looked like someone was carried down a bit (fortunately they walked away with no injuries). The other avalanche I am not sure if it was natural or triggered.

There is clearly some very unstable snow on Aonach Mor. However, large areas are scoured and stable. There is no slab in the top of  Easy Gully for example which would make it very easy to switch off from the hazard if you descending it to go climbing.  However, go down the gully and turn right for about 50m, and suddenly things are very different. Although hazard variability is normally significant in Scotland, it feels even more so in the current conditions. These conditions do not fit neatly into any particular avalanche hazard category. I decided that with at least two avalanches today, that was enough for a considerable hazard even if the distribution of the hazard was relatively limited. I am aware that it would have been possible to go out today, and not see much any slab even on the aspects indicated, and think what on earth is the forecaster giving it a considerable hazard for. I am not sure how much soft snow there is on Ben Nevis for example. Fortunately this blog gives the opportunity to go into a bit more depth on my thought process in terms of the report writing.

The shot below shows the avalanche below the Web (about 50 m skier right of Easy Gully). It looks like there is still a fair bit of soft slab beyond the area that released, more some obvious pillows further on out of shot towards the Stirling Bridge area. The forecast for tomorrow is South-West winds, and snow, particularly in the afternoon. That is going to build slab on top of these already delicate deposits.  It will be interesting to see what happens, but I suspect tomorrow will be the third avalanche day in a row on Aonach Mor.

A human triggered avalanche below the Web area in Coire an Lochan, Aonach Mor. There is an obvious set of tracks going into the avalanche, there looked to be another set of tracks coming out of the debris about 60 metres lower down out of shot.

Avalanches in near Climbers Col in Coire Dubh. The lower crown wall (green arrow) is from the human triggered avalanche that occurred yesterday, and is discussed on yesterday’s blog. The upper crown wall (red arrow) is from an avalanche sometime this morning. Not sure if it was natural or triggered (there looks to be what could be a set of footprints going to the right of the red arrow).

My prediction for tomorrow (based on a photo taken today). Blue arrows; the route taken by all the snow that is blown off the plateau, green areas, where I suspect areas of poorly bonded soft slab already exist, red arrows; where the avalanche will go.

The crags of Coire an Lochan. People were reporting some good ice today. 

Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg.

Looking South to Aonach Beag. The cloud hung around in An Cul Choire meaning that I was not able to get a view of how conditions on the North East face were looking.

Atmospheric conditions looking over the Grey Coires. Through the day the cloud tended to build from the South.

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