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Sunday, 10 February 2013

Snow shelters and blizzards!







Great weather for snowshelters, navigation, avalanche awareness and testing our winter clothing and gear.
Bright and clear but by mid morning the winds had increased with frequent snow-showers and white out as we navigated to a sheltered hollow to dig some emergency snowshelters for lunch. With the strong SE winds the fresh snow was quickly drifting and loading windslab onto NW and W aspects. Almost a foot of fresh cornice had formed during our half hour lunch break!




Initially Diana had been reluctant to squeeze into the snowshelter but after a cosy lunch break with Ian and Lizzi they were all very reluctant to leave the warmth of the snowhole to brave the blizzards!
After lunch we dug out our rucksacks and then headed to some old snowholes, which the now converted, Diana said she would give a five star rating on Tripadvisor! The snow holes gave us temporary respite from the wind and painful spindrift as we looked at our maps and planned our route back avoiding the hidden corniced edges and trying to get shelter from the wind and painful spindrift!



Donning crampons we then headed back practising crampon techniques and climbed some of the steeper corniced slopes.
The ski area road was closed yet again but when we returned back to the cars but plans were already being hatched by Lizzi and Ian and maybe even Diana for future snowhole expeditions!
On the same day a party of students from Leeds University got into trouble after a fatal climbing accident and loss of the most experienced member left the five survivors confused, disorientated and lost in blizzard conditions on the Cairngorm mountain plateau.
See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-21409600
A short video here from the Sunday gives and idea of the weather on the day. Our thoughts are with the survivors, families and friends of the victim.
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