Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Big Snow

There has been no shortage of coverage of Arran's weather on the news and other websites over the last week!  It has certainly been a difficult time for Arran residents with a 24 hour blizzard on the 22nd March that cut power to the island for a week and left homes and vehicles buried. Since then I've been out and about most days with the mountain rescue team, digging out people and cars, delivering supplies and checking on remote properties. If you want to see some pictures, check out the team's new website and blog, which has got some cracking shots of the work that the team has been doing during "The Big Snow".
On the domestic front, I am one of the lucky few who was put on generator power on Friday night /Saturday
The Mothership (our local generator)
morning.  I got in from a late MR shout to find lights on and a hot shower.  Most people were not so lucky, and my mum only got power yesterday. Today the process of switching the entire island back to the grid is now well underway (but not complete as Scottish Hydro are saying!)
I finally managed to get out in to the hills today, to see what conditions are like higher up.  I took a stroll up Goatfell from Corrie, via the easy path.  Low down the snow is soft and deep, but higher up where the hill was scoured by easterlies, it is firm, icy and well rimed. Lots of people were on the hill without appropriate footwear.   I'm guessing that I'm preaching to the converted, but if you really are considering heading up Goatfell tomorrow in shorts/jeans and trainers (seen today) perhaps I can talk you out of it? Essential kit used today included ice axe, crampons, sun block and shades.  Alpine heaven for those equipped to enjoy it. Once on the top, I had a dig around in the drifts on the NW side of the summit.  I found two major instabilities including one well buried. I'd say there is a definite potential for slab avalanches on steeper NW aspects up high.

Goatfell looking like a rimed up wedding cake. Stacach gully is loaded.

Looking from the summit to Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail.

NW aspect 800m. Easy failure soft slab on harder layer

2nd failure: hard icy slab slid on a soft layer during excavation.