Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Outstanding snow cover- what lies beneath?

Outstanding snow cover on Cairngorm Mountain and the light stayed good for much of the day.Monday to Friday skiing is ace and of course there is hardly a que compared to the weekends and the road is perfectly clear. This is wonderful for skiing upon however while we cruise on skis on the surface of this winter wonderland its worth considering what is happening within the snow below your skis! Climbers and non climbers can see that the buttresses and ski uplift pylons are clustered with white stuff. Snow wise, from a stability or unstable point of view today the snow has become quite stable and you should read the SAIS reports for further and much more accurate detail. However, if you had your eyes open today by the time you enjoyed your morning bacon butty from "Bill's" cafe at Glenmore, or the T- Bar cafe at Cairngorm Mountain you would have seen lots of surface hoar crystals on the sow. This shows us that freezing level is low and right now its actually down to zero meters! This could lead to an interesting and dramatic temperature gradient in the snow pack. If the gradient is strong, this may mean that facets or depth hoar will form. This Kinetic Growth can leads to poorly bonding fragile crystals forming in the snow pack. ( Facets, depth hoar, ladders and cup crystals are the examples you may be lucky enough to see in our Scottish Snow pack. Also today the wind was increasing as we left the hill and Heather on BBC Scotland said there is snow forecast for tonight. I would expect that it will be possible to trigger avalanches by tomorrow if you go the the lee slopes. It's absolutely vital to stay alert and keep your eyes and brain alert for all these signs and clues!

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