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firefly


Posts: 2118
Joined: May 2006
Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 12.16hrs on Tue 13 Oct 09
I have absolutely no idea how large it is, but Aonach Beag's snow is still there, and large enough to be seen from the eastern end of the Grey Corries. For those of you thinking, "which bit of snow is it?!", it's a good bit below the obvious bealach between Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag, just about visible if you know where to look! EDIT - this picture was taken yesterday. Courtesy of Donald Shaw.

 




Edited 1 times. Last edit at 12.22hrs Tue 13 Oct 09 by firefly.

firefly


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 12.45hrs on Tue 13 Oct 09
Close-up of previous picture.

Attachments: Aonach Beag close-up.JPG (14kB)  
alan


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 13.33hrs on Tue 13 Oct 09
Very mild on the higher hills today, but winds have generally been light or very light for the past couple of days which should offset the temperature factor - in calm or light winds the snow cools the immediate surrounding air creating it's own self preserving micro-climate.

firefly


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 13.50hrs on Tue 13 Oct 09
Indeed, Alan.

This is well seen at Observatory Gully, where a distinct fall in temperature is felt beside the snow when at the back of the bergschrund. I agree that the lack of wind will help, but obviously when patches are this small the difference isnít as pronounced as when they are large.

I think Aonach Beag will be experiencing melt today and tomorrow, but the forecast is for colder weather come Thursday afternoon (according to MWIS). I also think that Observatory Gully is too large for any milder weather to melt whatís left, so am confident of its survival. The only thing left to worry about is whether Aonach Beag can fend off the mild weather Ďtil the snow arrives. Iím still not convinced, but am more optimistic now that Iíve seen itís visible from the eastern end of the Grey Corries.


coaster


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 16.42hrs on Tue 13 Oct 09
Point 5 will be very small now in the drizzle and hillfog we've experienced today.

Will it be there when we get the clearance from the north??........




Chionophile


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 20.49hrs on Tue 13 Oct 09
A nice photo of Aonach Beag by Donald Shaw. Firefly, I've always found it harder to estimate the length of a snow patch on a distant photo than on the hill through binoculars, so I agree that it's hard to judge this one, especially because it is so narrow and short. The close-up shot is easier to judge, but when you look through a magnifying glass or you zoom up on the computer, the ends of the patch become indistinct and hard to assess. Also the patch is quite narrow at both ends. I'd hazard scoring it my grade 5, which is 12.5-25 m long. At first I thought of scoring it a 4 (about 6-12 m ) and a big one at that. However, there is foreshortening in the view from the east, because the patch is aligned largely in an easterly direction. So a narrow 5 seems more likely, and I'd say very unlikely to be at the top end of the 5 grade. Also the width is obviously small, so increasing the perimeter: area ratio and hence bound to be conducive to more rapid attrition. Time will tell!
Quite a lot of fresh snow drifts along the edge of the easterly cliffs on Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag, but of course well above the snow patch, which is so low down that it will have missed almost all of the recent fresh snowfalls. Also it is interesting that both hills are carrying far more fresh snow than the higher Ben Nevis. The recent northerly winds that came with the snowfalls are poor for gathering windblown snow on to Observatory Gully and Point Five Gully. They would have been effective for adding windblown snow to the Aonach Mor snowbed sites, but of course the old snow there had all gone.
On most days recently there have been frosts at night, which would have reduced melting greatly. The current warm front is a different matter, with mild nights and light rain and constant hill fog.

Chionophile


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 20.58hrs on Tue 13 Oct 09
Another idea for a wet dark evening is to measure the patch on a transparent ruler and then the vertical height from patch level to the summit of Aonach Beag. The patch lies at 950 m and the summit at 1234 m, vertical difference 284 m. On the close-up, the vertical distance is 69 mm and the patch length a good 3, perhaps 4 if you allow for foreshortening). Hey presto, calculations give you a patch length of 12 m or perhaps 16 m.

firefly


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 22.08hrs on Tue 13 Oct 09
Yes, Chionophile, I agree with a grade 5. I had thought to myself that it looks around 25m-30m long, and I based this on Mike W's excellent photograph from the 3rd November 2007, where the snow is in the region of 45-50m long (shown below). The photograph is taken from roughly the same place, but Mike's superior quality photo gives a much clearer impression of size. Donald's photograph was - alas - taken on a camera phone, which has comparitively lower resolution.

 


Freeheel


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 20.23hrs on Fri 16 Oct 09
Hi Firefly

I'm expecting to be in the Oban area for c10 days commencing 26th October and am hoping to pay a wee visit to Aonach Beag then, probably via Stob an Cul Choire which certainly (dependent on weather) appears to afford the best views.

Weather outlook for next week certainly looks mainly pants but hopefully remnants of the patch will cling on until the end of the month when first meaningful new snows look set to arrive.

Roll on the winter!


freeheel

coaster


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 16.01hrs on Sat 17 Oct 09
Point 5 gully on Ben Nevis has made it through another week.

With powerful binoculars i could "just" see that the patch has now broken into two tiny patches.

The forecast for next week does not look favourable.

firefly


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 20.30hrs on Sat 17 Oct 09
Thanks, coaster. I'm amazed it's lasted this long. The patch was tiny a week ago, and I'm encouraged that something so small has lasted so long.

Thankfully, the extraordinarily helpful Alan Halewood has made a special visit to Aonach Beag to view the remaining snow there.

 

Here is a picture in full size from his blog (taken today), showing the patch to be in the region of 25m x 15m. When you consider this patch was just shy of 50m long on the 22nd of August, it's astonishing to think it's still the size it is. However, it's now smaller than it's been since it last melted in 2006.

I'll post more pictures on the patch when I get them from Alan. Close-ups to follow!

Freeheel


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 21.16hrs on Sat 17 Oct 09
Great photo and amazing this patch is holding out given the very open location. Is that still some small patches of new snow I see up the top which have all but melted away?

Must be pretty solid with the core presumably comprised of 2007/2008 snow and the slow melt suggesting a sizeable mass. Will this be the daddy of them all (largest in size) at the end of the day I wonder?

Next week is not looking at all good for remaining patches weatherwise but forecasts further out look much more encouraging with what looks to be the potential for a nice and enduring blanket of fresh stuff.

firefly


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 10.42hrs on Sun 18 Oct 09
Alan Halewood has forwarded me another few snaps of Aonach Beag, and with some interesting observations.

Firstly, the snow was rock-solid. Alan said that he could not even get a single finger into the snow, and that he would have needed an ice axe to traverse it. Secondly, absolutely no melting was observed, despite the conditions in the sun being fairly comfortable. Of course, Aonach Beag won't get any sun, and probably hasn't seen any direct sunlight in months (does it get any?!).

A good picture is this one from below, showing why it is easy to misjudge the length of this snow from distance. The foreshortening effect is due to the very acute angle of the snow, thus distorting its true length.

The supersize version of another photograph (here) gives a better impression of length, and the 6ft plus bergschrund on the right. Allowing for additional depth towards the centre, this patch will be in the region of 2.5m deep.

I've studied this from a few angles, and compared it to other years, and I'd say it's slightly longer than 25m: possibly 28m.

A lot of melting left in this patch yet, and a very good candidate for survival. Myself and coaster are visiting it next Saturday (24th October), and will get precise measurments and more photographs.

Huge thanks go to Alan Halewood at [alanhalewood.blogspot.com] for his efforts. It really is fantastic that so many people now are helping out.

coaster


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 17.45hrs on Sun 18 Oct 09
Great stuff from Alan once again,a fair old scramble to get down to this patch but at least the weather was fine.


With a mild and windy week forecast for much of next week it will be interesting to see how this patch measures up next Saturday.

After a cool start to the month things were looking promising but the medium term charts on Netweather are far from promising but things can change quickly so fingers crossed the trend changes with each model update.

This snowpatch season could well exceed last year...........


Freeheel


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Re: Attention all walkers! 2009 snow-patch season
Date Posted: 12.36hrs on Tue 20 Oct 09
Agree great stuff and Alans website also well worth a look including video.

Looking at latest pics in full size there seems to be an awful lot of stones etc in the snowpack suggesting avalanche run out. Also quite a bit of moss on surrounding rocks suggesting these have been clear for a while and that remaining snowpatch which effectively seems like neve is melting very slowly.

Any news on how the patches in the east are fairing?

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