Thaw (and refreeze on its way).
Warm sector air is sitting on Scotland now, bringing lots of cloud and rain, and melting some of the snow. So far it has not melted too much snow or ice and if it stays much the same tomorrow we will get some very nice snow-ice in lots of places when it refreezes on Sunday. Water ice has been forming nicely over the last week where there is a spring to supply the water. Compression Cracks, Waterfall Gully, The Curtain and lots of little patches dotted around have some cascade style ice. However we have not had any thaw-freeze cycles so far meaning we do not have any snow ice in gullies such as Green Gully and Point Five Gully. After this thaw and with ten days of cold weather to come we will certainly have a base of solid snow-ice pretty soon.
Today I was with the three Nevis Partnership Trainee Volunteer Rangers and three staff from John Muir Trust. All of these people work in the mountains at all times of the year and they sometimes venture into wintry weather with snow on the ground. So this day was designed to give some training in planning for these days, where to go, what to carry and how to look after yourself when you're there. We went to Coire na Ciste on Ben Nevis and headed up towards Number Four Gully. We measured the angle of the slopes we were on, found some windslab and discovered its distinctive texture, made nice boot trails and practiced self-arresting a slide down a slope. We also chatted through the many human factors that badly affect our decision making and practical things we can do to minimise this. It was all a bit soggy but there was a lot of very useful learning going on too.
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Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.