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.
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