Firm and Icy

29th January 2024

The snowpack was very firm and icy today, while even scoured plateau areas had a thick coating of ice. Correspondingly the Avalanche Hazard is Low and the greater risks are associated with uncontrolled slips or tumbles on hard snow.

In the current conditions acceleration will be quick, and the “run outs” limited due to the paucity of snow cover. This makes for quite serious conditions for travel through the mountains, but also providing excellent climbing conditions in the north facing gully lines.

The situation tomorrow is likely to stay the same, with a widely firm and frozen snow surface and ice at lower elevations on footpaths etc. With a clear and sunny day in prospect there is the possibility that the snow surface will soften in some places. This is likely to be confined to very steep East, South-East and South aspects which are in the sun. In these locations some glide or creep of the snowpack may take place. The Avalanche Hazard will be Low.


Icy conditions on the plateau. Cairn Gorm visible in the distance.


A small glide crack. This most likely occurred yesterday during the ductile flow of the mostly homogenous snowpack. i.e. during thaw conditions.


Ben MacDui seen from near the top of the Goat Track, Coire an t-Sneachda. Good cover remains on the plateau, but it is icy.


The north facing gully lines remain unbroken and appeared from a distance to be giving quality climbing due to the firm snow surface.


Looking into Coire an t-Sneachda


A screen shot taken from Strava’s Global Heatmap. Unsurprisingly there is a huge amount of winter traffic around the ski area and out towards Ben MacDui. But also a traffic to the Sgorans from Glen Feshie. For the skiers you can easily see the line of ‘The Escalator’ and the lines to Braeriach, and the popular descents to Loch Avon. Perhaps one for another blog? Big plateau – Big data?

Comments on this post

  • Steven
    30th January 2024 12:22 am

    Great photos I hope this year I can finally climb both mountains .

    • ncairngormsadmin
      30th January 2024 9:02 am

      Thanks Steven, Hope you get the opportunity to get out in some good weather.

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