Avalanche Observations

25th February 2021

Covid -19
The Scottish Avalanche Information Service issues information to support permitted activity under current Scottish Government guidance.
Please be aware of current mandatory travel restrictions in Local Authority areas within Scotland and respect local communities by referring to Scottish Government guidance and safe route choices for exercise. For further guidance please refer to the following information for hillwalkers and climbers and snowsports on ski and board.
This blog is intended to provide hazard and mountain condition information to help plan safer mountain trips.
Another windy day with strong to gale force winds from the South-South-West. Little change is expected for tomorrow with a firm and icy snow surface up high and a gentle thaw at lower elevations. The consequences of a slip on steep slopes, either on ski or on foot, are significant at the moment. I variously travelled with axe, crampons, skis, and couteaux today.
Generally good visibility allowed me to have a look at the two large avalanches in Coire an Lochain today, both of which have reached the Lochain. Arguably size 2 and size 3, these both look to have run on the persistent weak layers that have been a feature of forecasts in the Northern Cairngorms for the last few weeks. A few images appear below, apologies for the dark and high contrast, the images have been tweaked to bring out the avalanche debris.

An interesting avalanche this one. Notice that the crown wall runs through the buttress and into much deeper snow on the right hand side (also seen in the next image). Although the trigger is unknown, this is common with persistent weak layers. They can be triggered in relatively shallow snowpacks but then propagate into much deeper snow.


Another set of avalanche debris exiting ‘The Couloir’ and crossing the ‘Great Slab’. Suspected to have come down on the 23rd Feb.


Avalanche debris from two large avalanches (previously observed on the 22/2). Note that the debris has run all the way to the lochan.  The debris has pushed ice 30-50cm thick and 1-2m across out onto the downslope side.


A fleeting glimpse of Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine. Isolated summits that have probably seen few visits this season due to covid, not to mention extreme weather.


Avalanche spotted on Sron na Lairige on the flanks of the Lairig Ghru. The tip wasn’t visible, so I assume this might have run all the way to the base of the Lairig Ghru.

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