Date of Incident

01/03/2019

Country

Scotland

Route

Incident

We were incredibly keen to get out for one last climb of the season as we each had plans to go travelling the following week. The forecast for weather was to deteriorate as the day progressed, with 80mph gusts and snow by 4pm. The avalanche forecast was considerable on all relevant aspects >500m.

We set off early and completed the walk in in good time. We were gearing up for a route we felt was safe, without really seeing the cornice on top due to poor visibility when a climber approached us and told us his mate had been avalanched on it the day before. There had only been more snow falling and drifting over night.

We then set about finding another route and after much faff began climbing at 1pm, the weather was already very poor at this point being transient whiteout, strong winds at the bottom in the corrie. We climbed the route without issue but topped out at 4pm into a horrific wind and complete white out. I had to sit whilst waiting for my partner to climb the apron as I was being blown from my feet. We walked off the hill blown over numerous times on rough ground, miraculously without any twisted ankle or puncture injuries from crampons. We made it back to the car as darkness fell already mentally and physically shattered to find a deserted car park covered in 4 inches of snow, with snow still falling and drifting.

We made the treacherous journey down the ski road covered in snow, the FWD hatch back locking up 3 times, each time i was sure I would end up in the woods by the side of the road. At the bottom the snow gates unsurprisingly were closed, it was a strange feeling to open them from the wrong side.

Lessons

1. We should never have considered climbing the initial route without a good view of what it was like higher up. We were very lucky to have the beta from the other climber. It was only going to be more prone to avalanche than the previous day. Could have potentially saved our lives.

2. Knowing the forecast was to deteriorate, we should've went to a cafe or killed time in Aviemore instead of attempting a route so late in the day. It would have been a disappointment yes but very worthwhile.

3. We considered how we would get off the hill, but not how we'd drive down from the carpark. Anyone reading the forecast would've known the ski road would be a no go.

Activity

Winter climbing

When

Descending

Injury

No injury

Causes

Darkness, Adverse Weather, Avalanche

Anonymous?

Yes

Reported By

Participant

Wearing Helmets?

Yes

Rescue Services Involved?