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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Deep snow, avalanche pits and comfy snow shelters...

On day two of our early season Winter Skills course Alex and Jo and I were joined by Fi.
As planned we headed up and over Cairngorm Mountain to look at avalanche assessment, dig emergency snowholes and practise some more ice axe braking.
Despite many areas still having thin wind scoured snow cover, I knew we'd find plenty of snow in one of the sheltered hollows up high on the plateau.
In the drift site we dug several avalanche test pits which failed when digging, on the east and north east aspects.
We then avoided the huge overhung cornice on the east facing slopes and dug our snow shelters on the north west aspect on the other side of the corrie!!!!
With regard to winter climbing a lot popular snow gullies are on NW aspects and have been wind scoured. Currently the main buildup that I've seen is on easterly aspects.
Having said that we met several groups of climbers who had been climbing in Coire an t-Sneachda today and they mentioned powder in the Runnel and using turf in Goat Track Gully!
Others mentioned the turf being unfrozen under powder on the Mess of Pottage. From the reports and from what I've seen, conditions are still pretty marginal but definitely improving!!!!
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