Sadly two mountaineers lost their lives on number three gully Ben Nevis today. Another walker was airlifted from Torridon with a broken ankle from an avalanche, and in another incident in the Central Highlands another walker was airlifted from an avalanche. Sadly I predicted this in my blog http://crankitupgear.blogspot.com/on monday. Sometimes it’s not nice being proved right.
Although the early season snow pack is relatively shallow, 3 weeks of low temperatures from -8 to -16 at sea level (-20c or less in the mountains) has formed considerable hoaring on the surface. With strong to storm force winds in the last 36 hours and some more snow fall extensive areas of slab have formed on headwalls in both the lee and from cross loading. These conditions are very like those experienced in the alps early season 2006 which remained in the snow pack throughout the season. Scotland with it’s normally maritime snow pack seldom retains depth hoar so it’s likely to disappear at the end of this unusually sustained cold snap at all levels.
Avalanche service report at http://www.sais.gov.uk/page_lochaber.asp