Paul James, MIC - - Winter and Rock Climbing Conditions

Saturday, 27 February 2010

27-02-10, Cairngorms - Winter Skills

Today I was working on a weekend Winter Skills course for Alpha Mountaineering. With the current High Avalanche Hazard we stayed low and off open steep slopes and headed from Glenmore to Ryvoan Bothy. The snow is deep (50cm) but fine to walk along the track. We managed to find some small slopes which were scoured in order to practice ice axe arrests (picture - right)and crampon technique. We also talked about avalanche awareness and why the mountains are currently so serious . By digging a few pits we could easily identify the windslab which has formed on top of the depth hoar crystals that have been buried from last week. This has happened on all aspects above 500m giving very dangerous climbing/walking/off piste skiing conditions. Avalanches have occurred not just on steep (30 degree) slopes but also lower angle (20 degree) and probably will continue until there is a prolonged thaw and refreeze to stabilise this.
The team finding the weak layer in the snow pack.

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