Sastrugi and Whumpfs

15th March 2023

Visibility made a very welcome return to Northern Cairngorms today. We were also treated to beautiful, diffused sunlight, caused in the upper atmosphere by the approaching fronts.

The wind has been hard at work on the plateau creating some impressively sculptural Sastrugi. Nice to look at but quite tricky to skin over. Check out this link if you want to know more about Sastrugi: » Sastrugi

The underling weaknesses within the snowpack are still present and groups travelling around the plateau area have reported hearing loud “Whumpfs” as the snowpack settles under their additional loading.

The forecast is for some further snowfall on gale force winds followed by a rise in the freezing level and rain. Over the past few days some very large cornices have developed above steep slopes, and these are expected to become vulnerable to collapse in the milder temperatures. A collapsing cornice is generally considered to be a “High Additional load” and has the potential to trigger slopes below.

Carn Etchachan and Shelter Stone.


Hell Lum, fresh cornice development evident above the left and right slopes.

Looking into Coire an t-Sneachda from Windy Col

Sastrugi- beautiful but a right pain to skin over!

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