Poor visibility, crust and icy paths

24th February 2023

The Cairngorms were engulfed in cloud all day, making navigation challenging in the poor visibility.

Overnight, there had been a brief period with the freezing level just above the summits. The freezing level then fell sharply, with the snow surface becoming become firm in most locations. In places this was a thin crust, that varied as to whether it supported the weight of a person or not (travelling on foot).

There are isolated deposits of windslab on South-East to South-West aspects above 1000m. These are mostly shallow and avoidable.

With high pressure set to continue, the snowpack will be mostly firm and icy, with potential for serious consequences in event of a slip or a fall. Run outs are hazardous with many exposed rocks.

Visibility was poor today as is often the case with northerly airflow over the Cairngorms. The visibility on the plateau didn’t get much better than this.


Paths became very icy today as the freezing level dropped to around 600m.


The wind is blowing from right to left in this picture, with rime ice forming pointing into the wind (on the right hand side of the boulder), and a fresh drift of snow accumulating on the wind sheltered side of the rock (the left hand side).


During a light snow shower today the sun was shining over Aviemore, but the Cairngorms were still engulfed in cloud. See the next picture for the ‘view’ behind.


Looking up towards the Ptarmigan, whilst the sun is shining in Aviemore.


In this location the crust had been supporting the weight of a person initially, but was breakable at the foot steps beside the pole.


Rainbow encircling a now mostly snow free Meall a’Bhuachaille.

Comments on this post

Got something to say? Leave a comment

    Latest Northern Cairngorms Avalanche Report
    RSS Feed
    Keep up to date by subscribing to our RSS feed
Service funded by sportscotland
Forecast data supplied by the Met Office
SAIS Sponsors