Historical Interest…

16th February 2024

A nice but rather damp day out in the mountains for a visit to Coire an Lochain. A few motivated individuals were making their way up ‘The Great Slab’ to the climbs above, but the cliffs remained shrouded in cloud.

The freezing level came down a little resulting in a consolidating snowpack which was firmer above 1100 metres. Observations were limited due to the visibility but the picture was one of stability and slow thaw.

Some historical avalanche debris was noted in the coire, with the potential that there was overlapping debris indicating fresh activity from the last few days. This remains inconclusive but would fit with the weather conditions and another reported avalanche from the night of the 13/14th February (see the image below).


A dreich and moody Coire an Lochain. Although the lochan is still covered in slowly thawing ice the climate in this north facing bowl was warm. +3.0 degrees Celsius at our snow profile site today. Just above the lochan some old avalanche debris can be seen from an event recorded on the 24th January.


The metal tie down points for Jean’s Hut in Coire an Lochain. Long since gone the bothy started out in Coire Cas before being moved to Coire an Lochain. Originally built in Coire Cas as a memorial to Jean Smith who died in a skiing accident in 1948 the hut was relocated only to be removed along with other bothies and shelters after the Cairngorm Disaster. Some small “trods” still lead to the spot today.


The raised flat area , previously the site of Jean’s Hut.


It is always useful to receive avalanche observations. This one was observed yesterday, but is likely to have released naturally on the night of the 13th to 14th of February. The 13th was characterised by strong westerly winds resulting in windslab accumulation on East aspects (pictured). Overloading is likely have occurred as windslab achieved greater depth above a low density weak layer. In the early hours of the 14th further overloading occurred as precipitation turned to rain. The crown wall can be seen (red arrows) running close to the corniced edge and linking rocks at both the left and right edges. A further small arrow indicates a small crown wall, possibly due to a secondary release from the debris above. This area close to the Feith Buidhe represents a steep convex slope at the top. Image: Tom Weston


The windsock was looking rather sorry for itself on the helicopter LZ at Glenmore Lodge. Most windsocks that meet the CAA specifications indicate a 15 knot windspeed or greater. Calm today!!

Comments on this post

  • Keith Horner
    16th February 2024 6:20 pm

    Re Jeans hut – this wasn’t removed in response to the Cairngorm Tragedy of 1971, which prompted the removal of other mountain shelters on the plateau, but not until 1986, primarily following the deaths of 3 Heriot Watt University students in January 1985 who failed to find the hut in a fierce blizzard. CMRT apparently wanted to replace the then largely dilapidated hut with a new shelter to act as an advanced base for rescues but this came to nothing.

    • ncairngormsadmin
      17th February 2024 9:38 am

      Keith, Thanks for correcting me. I am sure you are quite correct and I have conflated the two events.

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