Sunday 3 November 2013

Winter has arrived

Over the past few days winter has arrived in the Highlands. Today I met up with Iain Cameron and Stuart Gordon , both keen observers of Scottish snowpatches to have a look at the snow at the snow.

 The Point Five Gully patch is under he somewhere. Iain digging through new to to try and find old snow.

We headed up Observatory Gully and over to the base of Point Five Gully. There was a good amount of snow here in August (I wrote about this in a previous blog post) and I was hopeful that some of it would remain. Initially there was no sign of any old snow. However, after a bit of probing we found the old snow buried beneath the new. Given amount of fresh snow and the forecast it seems very likely lasting snow for this winter has arrived in this location. Last years snow patch will be incorporated into this years snow pack. This was the first time that snow has survived the summer in this location since 2008 (I think). After a bit investigation we found the old snow patch to be about 10 metres wide and maybe a meter deep, so it was a healthy survival at that.

Iain and Stuart trying to establish the dimensions of the Observatory Gully patch under all the fresh snow. This picture is taken from roughly the same location as the one below for some comparison and to show roughly how much snow has fallen over the past couple of day. 

The Observatory Gully patch on the 28th of September. 

It was then over to the Tower Scoop area. This is where the most permanent snow patch on Ben Nevis is to be found, and there has been snow here constantly since the autumn of 2006. Again last years snow was buried, but after a probing we soon found  the patch to be 10 metres wide and perhaps a bit deeper than the Point Five Patch. Despite the fact this it only started snowing a few days ago, we found there to be two and a half metres (probably more in some locations) of fresh snow snow in the narrows of the gully just above.

It felt nice to be out in the winter environment. Summer is nice, long days, rock climbing in the hills etc However, assuming the crag is dry, rock climbs don't tend to change very much. However the winter environment is very different, it has an ephemeral  transient nature of it. I enjoy watching how the snow and ice conditions evolve over the days/weeks/months. Today felt like the end of the story of last years snow, two patches have survived and become part of this years snowpack on  Ben Nevis, and the start of the story for next years snowpack. Geeky stuff I know, but I think it great.