Avalanche awareness guide launched in Cairngorms

Skiers and snowboarders are set to benefit from a new avalanche awareness guide launched in the Cairngorms today. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Skiers and snowboarders are set to benefit from a new avalanche awareness guide launched in the Cairngorms today. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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A NEW avalanche awareness guide - containing potentially life-saving information for skiers, snowboarders, hill walkers, and climbers - was launched today in the heart of the Cairngorms.

Representatives from across the mountaineering sector gathered at the Sportscotland Glenmore Lodge national outdoor training centre, near Aviemore, to promote the free avalanche awareness guide.

In January last year, four climbers were swept to their deaths and a female climber was seriously injured after being caught in an avalanche in Glencoe while climbing on Bidean nam Bian.

The Sportscotland Avalanche Information Service already issues daily reports on the avalanche dangers in the most popular mountain areas for mountaineers, ice climbers and off-piste skiers.

Be Avalanche Aware! is aimed at providing information for anyone taking to the mountains in winter, helping them to assess the conditions and make better judgments on where and when to go.

A spokeswoman for Sportscotland, which funded the guide, said: “The illustrated advice in the guide offers practical tips and helps with decision-making, covering pre-trip planning, the day of the trip itself, and decisions to be taken at specific points during the day.

“For each section, the guide considers avalanche hazard and weather, the abilities of the party, and the nature of the terrain.

“It stresses the importance of forward planning, flexibility and constant attention to changing circumstances through the day, as well as an honest awareness of the party’s own skill level and abilities.”

Ross Purves, chairman of the Snow and Avalanche Foundation for Scotland, said: “Understanding avalanches, and how to avoid being in one, is a key skill in having a safe winter day in the mountains.

“The guide is an excellent resource, which will help mountain-goers set off better informed.”

Bob Kinnaird, principal of the Sportscotland national training outdoor centre at Glenmore Lodge, said: “This new guide provides an excellent tool that will add to the already comprehensive avalanche education and information available through training courses and online avalanche forecasts.”

Shona Robison, the minister for sport, said: “The vast majority of trips to Scotland’s mountains are without incident. Scotland is blessed with stunning scenery but this should not lead any of us to underestimate its dangers.

“Sharing the advice in this leaflet can save lives and I urge all outdoor enthusiasts planning a trip to a potential avalanche area to read the leaflet.”

Tim Walker, president of the Association of British Mountain Guides, said: “Under the guidance and facilitation of the Snow and Avalanche Foundation of Scotland, this publication has been refined to produce a much- needed clear and unified approach to avalanche awareness.”

The ‘Be Avalanche Aware!’ guide can be downloaded from www.sais.gov.uk, with hard copies available from specialist outdoor shops, National Outdoor Training Centres, and ski resorts.

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