Uncharacteristically Calm

2nd March 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 calm and sunny day in the Northern Cairngorms, where suncream is arguably more important than a set of the latest waterproofs.

An interesting situation prevails at the moment with high pressure well established, resulting in inversions and mild temperatures at altitude. However, the snow surface has remained very cold possibly due to radiation cooling into the calm and clear atmosphere.

The important issue is that the snow surface has remained very hard and icy in many places even to low elevations. The consequences of a fall or slip cannot be over stated, particularly as the snowpack becomes more patchy low down. The exception to this is steep South facing slopes which are subject to direct sunlight. Here the snow has softened readily, giving some good skiing in some locations on ‘spring snow’.

That said, the burn lines and gullies are also rapidly being affected by glide cracks and fractures as the snow creeps down hill due to ductile flow. These holes and cracks present a hazard for the unwary, especially if they are lurking just over a convexity.

Little change is expected tomorrow.


Carn Etchachan and Shelterstone Crag with a frozen Loch Avon in the foreground.


Debris beneath the south facing crag of Hells Lum. There are still a few suspect cornices here in direct sunlight which are worth giving a wide berth.


The snow surface is widely “bullet proof” at the moment. Hard and icy on most aspects.


Warm temperatures up high, +2 degrees at my formal pit site today with a snow surface temperature of -3.7 degrees.


Some climbers enjoying the sun after exiting the shady north facing slopes of Coire an t-Sneachda.

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