Sunday, April 11, 2010

lochnagar backbowl skiing

A Spring day that turned just about into summer at the valley bottom still provided a great day of spring skiing on Lochnagar yesterday. Two hours of walking brought the arrival of the big snow patches but still enough gaps to make walking quick snow free. I left the carpark just after 6.30am and arrived at the summit of lochnagar just after 9.30am. A strong wind gave moderate buffering but that became light around lunch time as the milky sky turned more blue. The front of lochnagar corrie has snow but was more patchy in nature, the apple core run was complete but narrow, even the front of Meall Corie Na Saobhaidhe wasn't that inviting but I skied down the ridge to its summit for further investigation. But the funny thing is the closer you get the less you can see, the wind was still buffeting. The big story of the winter has been the snow coming on an east wind and loading the west facing slopes with snow and they are still loaded. The decision on where to ski was easy to make. See the photo.

lochnagar backbowl skiing, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

The new snow of last week was only spring for about 2cm, but still soft snow below and sitting on a hard frozen spring base. On the steeper slopes, I felt the avalanche risk, it was rated moderate for the day and there was evidence of a couple of cornice collapse avalanches in The Stuic Corrie. I navigated my way quickly out of the soft stuff and on to harder spring snow. The firmer snow made for marking a good stair case for walking up the slope again. Ended up walking up four times. Then it was time to think about heading back home. I had noticed on the way up that the west facing slope of Cuidhe Crom was sitting with snow top to bottom and the Glas Alt valley was full of snow but with the burn now returning to site in place, the snow bridges looked real dodgy! The ski across to the Crom was difficult soft snow but it firmed as I climbed again. Skiing down was great up top, and fairly steep but then the soft stuff returned, up to 12 inches of loose spring granular snow. A cross between powder skiing and spring skiing. Tough technically but I eventually got some rhythm going. Then it was a case of following Glas Alt, well until the snow ran out and that was at the waterfall. Then it was a tiring walk back to the car park in the heat of the afternoon sun. Maybe 20c or so. What a day. Scotland you are magic place.