The south side of the Ghru

Avalanches and mass movement

Avalanches explained

Cairngorm avalanche forecast

Avalanches are a continuing winter hazard in the mountains. Although many shallow avalanches contain only snow, deeper avalanches frequently incorporate varying volumes of rock debris. As avalanches tend to follow gulleys, this debris tends to accumulate on valley floors at the mouths of these gulleys.

Ward (1980, 1985) examined avalanche activity in the Cairngorms. Many avalanche sites used to produce avalanches each year. Most are shallow, with run out lengths of <250 m and include cornice falls, failures of loosely consolidated snow and slab avalanches.

Avalanche boulder lobes are well developed in the Lairig Ghru around Pools of Dee (Luckman, 1992, Ballantyne, 1996). The largest lobe is up to 100 m wide and 7 m thick and debris crosses the valley floor, implying that the avalanche or avalanches responsible were sufficiently powerful to begin to climb the opposing (western) slope.

Historical accounts of major avalanches include one that destroyed the bothy in the Gaick Pass in 1800. In 1959, a large avalanche from Coire na Ciste reached beyond the present site of the car park (Ward, 1984).

protalus ramparts        rock glaciers    solifluction