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Sunday, 3 February 2008

An overnight thaw, high winds (132 mph) and wolves...!

An overnight thaw, rain and avalanches off Aviemore's house roofs meant no need to scrape the car windscreen.
It was quite a contrast to Friday and Saturday with the lower hills and roads being quickly stripped of snow.
Horizontal rain, high southerly winds were the theme for today with skiers and climbers quickly retreating from the Coire Cas and Coire an t-Sneachda at around 09:00 am this morning!
We looked we saw and we quickly went to a more sheltered location... Al H had the same idea!!! It was still very windy but at least the car was protected and we were heading for a little sheltered notch about half an hour from the Coire na Ciste carpark. An ideal day for looking at kit selection, navigation in strong winds, snowcraft, negotiating cornices and snowhole construction. It was wise choice as the winds were a lot higher than forecast making progress on exposed ridges almost impossible. The winds continued unabated throughout the day with winds up to 132 mph recorded by the weather station.
Today the Nottingham students club were doing their own thing so I had Colin, Gavin and Alexander from our weekend winter skills course with me. As Colin and Alexander are both doctors and are interested in expedition medicine the Cairngorm weather was nigh on perfect. It was perfect for experiencing mild exhaustion while ploughing through deep snow against 70-80 mph winds. Perfect for looking at the effects of windchill and hypothermia. Perfect for looking at clothing systems that kept you warm and dry. In fact perfect arctic weather for the two wolves that were checking us out nearby...!!!
Despite the thaw many of the gullies in the ski area and in the corries have actually benefited from today's drifting snow and thaw and should freeze up again overnight.
On Saturday many of the wind scoured areas such as the Mess of Pottage in the Northern Coires provided good easy climbing. Apparently some of the ice routes are still OK too? Winds permitting it should be even better later this coming week as long as there's not too much fresh drifted snow.

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