Calm before the storm

26th December 2023

It was truly a ‘winter wonderland’ today and a privilege to be out enjoying the magic of the winter mountains. Overnight snow lay down to road level in some parts of the Torridon forecast region and the roads were pretty treacherous this morning.  A blanket of snow covers all aspects and there was plenty of evidence of wind transported snow on the Easterly aspects. This windslab was extremely fragile, but not extensive and mainly lying on bare ground.

Tomorrow it’s all change as Storm Gerrit arrives bringing significant amounts of snow. The wind is forecast to do a ‘180’ and increase to storm force from the East/South-East, with gusts on the tops in excess of 90 mph – not a day for venturing high in the mountains.

Below, an early morning photo of the Eastern end of Beinn Eighe. Creag Dhubh centre right of the photo.

Below, taken at Achnasheen Station looking West towards Moruisg and the Strath Carron Munros. Note the snow down to 200m, the car park was sheet ice!

Below, looking up towards the hill for the day – Meall a Chaorainn (705m), windslab accumulations on the East flank highlighted in the sun. The coire we crossed was suitably named ‘Coire Bog’ on the OS map and even though it looked pretty, we occasionally sank into the bog above our boot tops!

Below a summit photo of Meall A Chaorainn (705m), windslab accumulations on the Eastern aspect of the diminutive summit cairn. Sunlight in the background on the South West flank of Fionn Bheinn which held the cloud all morning.

Below, the windslab we found was very fragile and propagated (cracked) easily underfoot. Cracking is always a ‘red flag’ highlighting instabilities within the snowpack.

And finally, enjoying the winter sun on our descent across ‘Coire Bog’.  Photo below shows how superficial the covering of new snow is at lower levels.


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