Highlands & Islands

Walkers and climbers warned of late spring avalanches

Looking South to Bein Avon in Cairngorms Image copyright SAIS Cairngorms
Image caption Looking South to Bein Avon in Cairngorms in an image taken by SAIS Northern Cairngorms on Thursday

Walkers and climbers heading to Scotland's mountains this Bank Holiday weekend have been warned to be aware of the potential for avalanches.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) said fresh snow on top of old, icy coverings had heightened the risk.

Temperatures in Scotland's hills have also been falling as low as -5C.

The Sportscotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) continues to provide weekend reports for Lochaber and the Northern Cairngorms.

Image copyright SAIS Northern Cairngorms
Image caption Snow covering the Northern Corries in another photograph taken on Thursday

In the Cairngorms, the service's forecasters said walkers and climbers should be aware of potential for avalanches in some places, but also encouraged them to enjoy "rare" snowy spring conditions.

The MCofS said this spring has been "unseasonably cold" and its warning comes amid heavy snowfalls over Tiree in the Hebrides, and also a Met Office yellow "be aware" warning of snow and freezing temperatures for many parts of Scotland.

Heather Morning, of the mountaineering council, said: "If folk are planning to head up high then they definitely need the full winter kit."

Image copyright Scoopintiree/WeatherWatchers
Image caption Snow in Tiree on Thursday

She added: "Another aspect to consider, if going up higher hills and steep slopes, is avalanche risk.

"There is potential for that with fresh new snow on top of older hard snow, which provides a good sliding surface."

SAIS, which usually starts its reporting season in December and wraps it up by mid April, has recorded 24 avalanches in the past month.

Snow that has already fallen and forecasts for further snowfalls has meant two of Scotland's outdoor ski centres, CairnGorm Mountain and Glencoe Mountain, expect to have slopes open until at least Monday.

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