Misty over the tops

13th February 2020

Calm conditions today in the Cairngorms, good visibility below 950 metres but above this level, visibility was poor with whiteout conditions and the need to use map and compass. Visibility improved in the afternoon with some bright conditions developing.

The snowpack has improved in stability with the storm slab becoming dense and firm in most places, still plenty of scoured and firm areas and deep accumulations at lower elevations in low angled terrain.

The Allt Mor burn

Looking up towards the Northern corries and Lurchers gully

At 1000m – Hard to imagine the visibility was this poor higher up!

Navigation on ski requires a particular skill set, measuring time and distance covered is tricky because of the glide variation on the flat or in descent. Using altitude is key, so an accurate altimeter that has been recently calibrated is very important. Travelling in straight lines is a bit easier on ski as you can often hold a line or take a back bearing on your tracks to see if you are going in the correct direction. Better still, is to work in pairs with the tail person keeping the front person in line with verbal commands. It is easier to sight if rocks lie on the ground ahead but if it is a complete whiteout ( as photo) then staying on line and navigation to a specific altitude is essential.

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