A Dreich Windy Day @ Cairngorm

2nd February 2023

Today was definitely NOT a winter wonderland. Storm force Westerly winds, the freezing level above the summits and rain are all taking a heavy toil on the remaining snowpack.  Snow cover is diminishing rapidly and further thawing conditions are expected tomorrow after a brief lowering of the freezing level to around 1000m overnight.

The good news is the funicular was still running, even though snow sports were limited to the lower parts of Coire Cas.  Below a photo of the White Lady’ taken looking up from the Sheiling area at around 800m.

Snow cover on the plateau is also severely impacted, although there were some hard, icy snow patches in places in-between the very wet/mushy deposits of fresher wind blown snow.  Photo below taken in the Ptarmigan Bowl area around 1100m.

Ptarmigan are becoming a rare sighting these days, one theory is that the crows which are attracted to the ski area scavenging on human left overs are to blame – predating on the Ptarmigan eggs and chicks.  So it was nice to see this wee Ptarmigan ‘scrape’ and its creator close by, sheltering from the Storm force winds.

The Ptarmigan wasn’t the only ‘life form’ we found dug in and protected from the wind.  Today we carried out our snow profile on an East facing aspect in Ciste Mhearad and found a group of military personnel who had spent the night out in a snow hole as part of their winter mountain leader assessment.  Given the right weather/temperature and snow conditions, snow holing can be a great option for spending the night out on the high Plateau of the Cairngorms.

Snow holing is a potential dangerous activity and should only be attempted by those with appropriate experience and qualifications.

Comments on this post

  • Gary Hodgson
    2nd February 2023 5:33 pm

    Ptarmigan numbers declining. Definitely. I’ve been observing them in tge Northern Cairngorms for over 12 years. Last 5 years or so a definite lowering in the population.

    I think it’s Ravens not crows that are predating. A definite rise in numbers of Raven in the last few years.

    • ncairngormsadmin
      4th February 2023 4:22 pm

      Hi Gary thank’s for your comment. Hopefully they will continue to survive and increase in numbers.

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