Monday, 12 March 2018


Cairn Lochan above the temperature inversion
Temperature inversion, fog bow & Brocken Spectre!
The cloud creeping up Coire an Lochain
The two folk in the bottom right give the scale
The cloud creeping up Coire an t-Sneachda
Fiacaill Buttress
What a sight!
Cairn Gorm and a fog bow
It's creeping higher!
Approaching Cairn Gorm summit, the cloud wins!
Would rather have this!
One of the finest weather phenomena in the mountains has to be a temperature or cloud inversion. If you go into the mountains on a regular basis, you will no doubt encounter one of these sooner or later. If you're really lucky you may even get a Broken Spectre too. If you're very, very lucky you may get a Temperature Inversion, Brocken Spectre and a Fog Bow all in one day. There were all three in the Northern Cairngorms today. For any weather forecaster, these must be quite difficult to predict. A period of high pressure, light winds and relatively warm air are the ingredients. Most occur during  the Autumn and Winter months. I guess there is an element of luck involved too. There has been warm air during the day and colder nights recently. All good to get the snow pack stable. It was definitely much easier to walk over the last few days and the avalanche risk has reduced in the melt/freeze cycles. Some lovely walking  underfoot. All the stream beds are well filled in with snow to lower altitudes in the Northern Corries.
Another leisurely 10.30am start this morning. It was cloudy and clagged in at 630m. It was so warm I was down to base layers on the approach to the Fiacaill Coire Sneachda. Above 850m the sun was trying to burst through the thin cloud cover. Was it going to be clear skies soon? The anticipation on days like this is fantastic. How could you not get excited, even if I have been up the Fiacaill Ridge more times than I care to count! At an altitude of 1000m it was gloriously hot and there were clear skies. What a sight! 'Below us only cloud', as the song goes. There were a few parties on the ridge enjoying the Alpine conditions. Half-way up and a glorious Fog Bow was arcing over the ridge. Down toward Coire an t-Sneachda the Brocken Spectre made its appearance. Magic!
By the time I reached the plateau, the top of the cloud had started rising again. I headed up to the summit of Cairn Lochan. The only mountains poking out of the sea of cloud were Braeriach, Cairn Toul, Ben Macdui, Beinn Mheadhoin and Cairn Gorm. I sat sunbathing in the warm, still air for over half an hour before the cloud finally crept up over all the summits.
I wandered across the plateau and up to Cairn Gorm in the hope that the cloud would sink again, but it never did. Well, mustn't be greedy!

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