#10 — Twenty one snow-patches survive until winter 2014

The new snow that’s fallen over the Highlands of Scotland in the last week or so has heralded the start of the winter season proper for skiers and winter climbers. That being the case, snow-patch hunters like me can hibernate until next year.

Lasting snow, when it comes, is always something of a proverbial double-edged sword. The dirty wee patches (as they almost invariably are) get a good winter duvet to protect them till next year; which is utterly what we want. But, it’s quite a sad feeling to know that we won’t see them in their former guise until well into summer 2015, some 7 or 8 months away.

Some people have asked me what ‘lasting’ snow is, and how do I know it’s come. Put simply, ‘lasting’ snow is that which falls and subsequently fails to melt. So, for example, if an old patch of snow gets even a sprinkling of new stuff on the 12th October, upon which it sits for a week and is then completely buried by a blizzard on the 19th October, the date of ‘lasting’ snow is computed as the 12th. This is the way that Adam Watson has calculated it in his decades of snow-patch monitoring in the Cairngorms and other places, and to me it’s the most logical method.

2014’s survivals. In total, 21 (twenty one) patches of snow survived to winter, and they are listed in order from west to east.

Ben Nevis — eight patches (lasting snow came on 4 December)

1, 2 & 3 — Coire na Ciste (picture from 29 October, here)

4 — Upper Observatory Gully (picture from 29 October, here)

5 & 6 — Point 5 Gully (picture from 5 November, here)

7 & 8 — Zero Gully (picture from 4 December, here)

Aonach Mor — three patches (lasting snow came on 4 December)

9 & 10 — Coire an Lochain, ‘Piranha’ (picture from 30 November, here)

11 — Coire an Lochain, ‘Protalus’ (picture from 30 November, here)

Aonach Beag — three patches (lasting snow came on 4 December)

12 — An Cuil Choire (picture from 29 October, here)

13 & 14 — An Agaidh Gharbh (picture from 30 November, here)

Creag Meagaidh — one patch (lasting snow came on 4 December)

15 — Raeburn’s Gully (picture from 28 October, here)

Braeriach — three patches (lasting snow came on 3 November)

16, 17 & 18 — Garbh Choire Mor, ‘Sphinx’, ‘Pinnacles’ & ‘Michaelmas Fare’ (picture from 1 December, here)

Ben Macdui/Cairn Gorm — three patches

19 & 20 — Coire an Lochain (picture from 23 November, here). Lasting snow came on 3 November

21 — Feith Buidhe slabs (picture from 23 November, here). Lasting snow came on 4 December.