Slow Thaw

10th March 2022

It has been a day of poor visibility on the higher summits, with many of the views truncated by a consistent cloud base both in Torridon and The Fannichs. There was a little snow overnight, with the greatest amounts in Torridon over 600 metres.

This quickly became moist at all elevations as the freezing level rose above the summits, creating some “roller ball” activity (pictured below). The freezing level is due to drop this evening before rising again. So while slow thaw conditions will continue little change in stability is expected. The avalanche hazard will remain low with some minor wet snow instabilities lingering at higher elevations over next period.

Outwith these areas the older existing snowpack is generally well bonded and stable.


(Above) Looking into the Fannaichs shrouded in hill fog. The cloud base remained around 700m. Isolated patches of snow remain below 600m.


(Above) An Teallach. The eastern coire of Toll an Lochain. Most snow remains on N to SE aspects above 750m. With freezing levels above the summits this morning, the snowpack is slowly thawing.


(Above) Typical of the cloud base this morning, although it did lift and break later. Beinn Eighe, Stuc Coire an Laoigh, Spidean Coire nan Clach and Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe.


(Above) “Roller Balls” noted on NE-E aspects above 700m in Coire an Laoigh. These are indicative of wet snow instabilities close to the surface. In this case wet snow overnight lying on top of older firmer Neve, with activity as the freezing level rose this morning. Note the source from the rocks in steeper ground above.


(Above) Coire an Laoigh on Beinn Eighe. The back wall of this coire always interests me as the boundary of the Torridonian Sandstone (Applecross Formation) and Cambrian Quartzite is clearly visible as you ascend. The Quartzite is visible above the red line in the image, just 508 to 526 million years old. Due to the scoured slopes on Spidean Coire nan Clach there are also some great examples of ‘Pipe Rock’ to be seen at the moment.


Comments on this post

  • Colin
    10th March 2022 9:24 pm

    I always enjoy some geological info’. Nice one.

    • torridonadmin
      11th March 2022 12:00 pm

      Thanks Colin. We try to educate…. Especially as James (the forecaster on the day) is a trained geologist.

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