Calm in the Cairngorms

27th December 2021

A calm and pleasant day in the Northern Cairngorms today. Light winds and just a couple of isolated showers in the morning, giving a few flurries of snow.

Isolated accumulations of windslab remain on West, North-West, North and North-East aspects above 900 metres. Despite the freezing level rising slightly the snowpack remains cold and instabilities will persist beneath this windslab. In many cases this windslab is firm because of the high winds, but it may be more easily triggered where it is shallow and thin. A cautious approach is worthwhile, particularly in steep terrain such as coire rims, scarp slopes, and gully tops etc.

With much better visibility today it was easy to spot some avalanche activity from the previous 24 hour period. Avalanche activity was noted in Coire Laogh Mor at an altitude of around 900 metres, while in Coire Cas there is a larger avalanche from the Coire headwall.

It is not entirely clear how this is related to the event on the 24th December, as previously reported here in the blog. In this case it appears to have propagated further onto the North-East facing slopes on the flanks of the Fiacaill a’Choire Chais. In both cases these avalanches appear to have run on a softer weak layer just above the older melt-freeze snowpack.


Red sky in the morning… Looking towards Greag nan Gall and Stac na h-lolaire from near Whitewell.


Coire Laogh Mor, An t-Aonach and Coire Cas


The view into Coire an t-Sneachda from “Windy Gap”. The coire is well scoured in many locations, but firm windslab can be found in many isolated locations higher on the coire headwall and in the gullies.


Folk at the top of Aladdin’s Couloir, Coire an t-Sneachda.


This 56cm deep block of firm windslab failed on isolation at my snow profile site today. These accumulations are localised but can be triggered easily where they are shallow or thin.


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