Braw on Aonach Mor

11th March 2024

Nice day on Aonach Mor today, at least at lower elevations. The summit slopes remained shrouded in cloud for most of the day, and it was particularly fresh in the cold air.

A few climbers and skiers were out and about today. The climbers were looking for firm and icy snow which was present in abundance. The two skiers I saw also managed to find some nice pockets of windblown snow at lower elevations in the shallow scooped hollow of ‘The Goose’.

As we get into March the classic ice lines on the East Face of Aonach Mor get an increasing amount of sun. In cold conditions this can build ice readily, but also comes with the additional hazards of cornice collapse and the diurnal freeze-thaw of the surrounding rock. This can sometimes result in belays that are only superficially frozen, and being conservative in ones approach can be advantageous.

Solar radiation is unlikely to be a problem tomorrow, as a cloudy day is expected with precipitation overnight and into the morning. This will gradually turn to very light rain at all elevations, resulting in a softening snow surface.


Isolated accumulations of older windslab evident here alongside the snow fences on the ‘Summit Run’. Note the skinning track from a lone skier, demonstrating the depth of the soft snow.


Small cornices still present a hazard around the coire rims, seen here on the East Face of Aonach Mor. Rime ice from recent days also visible coating this sign post.


An interesting set of features on the Aonach Mor plateau. These extraterrestrial type blobs [I suspect] are actually ‘Raised Footprints’. In soft snow the foot fall compresses the snow underneath the foot, and the lighter undisturbed snow if blown away in the wind leaves raised footprints. These have also been acted in rime ice in the wind, creating these hybrid blobs that resemble small mushrooms…


Carn Dearg on Ben Nevis with the whaleback ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach in the foreground. In the centre is the top of the large multi-aspect bowl of No.5 Gully. On the left are the cliffs of Creag na Coire na Ciste, and on the far right are the gullies of South Castle and North Castle. Both of which are sought after steep ski descents in the right conditions. [Inevitably they will be firm and icy at the moment].


In the foreground are the summits of Carn Mór Dearg and Carn Dearg Meadhonach. Behind is Ben Nevis with North East Buttress facing the camera. To the right of this lies The Orion Face. Also visible is the top of Observatory Gully. The ridge in the foreground is The East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach. A couple of parties were off to do this this morning, having used the Nevis Range Gondola to gain a bit of height. This ridge has a wild and remote feel, despite being opposite the frequently climbed ridges on the West Face of Aonach Mor and is an experience to be savoured. I hope they had a good day today.


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