Snow joke: The Sphinx has melted away in Cairn­gorms

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) - - NEWS -

The long­est-last­ing patch of snow in Scot­land has melted away af­ter 11 years.

Iain Cameron, who seeks out and records snow that sur­vives on Scot­land’s high­est moun­tain, said the cover of snow at Garbh Choire Mor on Braeri­ach in the Cairn­gorms – known as ‘The Sphinx’ – dis­ap­peared at the week­end. The last time snow van­ished from the spot – known by climbers and walk­ers as ‘Scot­land’s glacier’ – was 2006.

Sci­en­tists say the patch has dis­ap­peared only six times in the last 300 years, pre­vi­ously melt­ing in 1933, 1953, 1959, 1996, 2003 and 2006.

Stir­ling-based Mr Cameron re­vealed the snow on so­cial me­dia fol­low­ing a visit to the site at the week­end. He has also writ­ten an ar­ti­cle about the van­ish­ing snow on the moun­tain for The Great Out­doors mag­a­zine, pub­lished yes­ter­day.

He states that mild and wet weather dur­ing the most re­cent win­ter was a ma­jor fac­tor in re­duc­ing the snow melt­ing away on Bri­tain’s third high­est peak.

In 2015, 73 patches of snow were found to have sur­vived on Scot­land’s hills from the pre­vi­ous win­ter – the most for 21 years.

Snow was a rare fea­ture of the Scot­tish win­ter of 2016 into 2017, re­sult­ing in a ‘chal­leng­ing sea­son’ for the coun­try’s out­door ski re­sorts. Braeri­ach is a 1,296m (4,252ft) Munro in the Cairn­gorms.

Garbh Choire Mor is de­scribed as Scot­land’s snowiest cor­rie be­cause of the amount of snow it can hold even through sum­mer months.

UKClimb­ing.com warns that it is a place to avoid in win­ter be­cause of cor­nices – large over­hang­ing ledges of snow that form above the cor­rie.

BY ALISTAIR MUNRO

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