Highlands & Islands

Fewest avalanches recorded in almost 10 years

Hares in Southern Cairngorms on 27 January Image copyright SAIS Southern Cairngorms
Image caption Mountain hares in their white winter colours on a snow-free slope in Southern Cairngorms on 27 January

The Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) has wound up its latest forecasting season with its lowest number of recorded avalanches in almost 10 years.

There were 83 avalanches between December last year and this month, according to the service's initial figures. It will provide an official tally in an annual report later this year.

Last season, there were 207 avalanches and 305 in 2014-15, 350 in 2013-14, 129 in 2012-13, 154 in 2011-12, 178 in 2010-11 and 220 in 2009-10.

The snow slides that are recorded occur naturally - often after a cornice, snow overhanging a slope or cliff, collapses - or have been triggered by walkers and climbers accidentally or deliberately by ski patrols to make an area used for snowsports safe.

Southern Cairngorms on 29 January Image copyright SAIS Southern Cairngorms
Aonach Dubh, Glen Coe, on 23 December Image copyright SAIS Glencoe
Image caption Aonach Dubh, Glen Coe, on 23 December

SAIS assesses for the risk of avalanches in six areas: Lochaber, Glen Coe, Northern Cairngorms, Southern Cairngorms, Creag Meagaidh and Torridon.

This winter and spring, conditions have included periods of freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls but also mild weather and high winds, which strip snow from hillsides.

SAIS has just announced the winding up of its latest season.

Hillwalkers in a blizzard in Northern Cairngorms on 4 March Image copyright SAIS Northern Cairngorms
Image caption Hillwalkers in a blizzard in Northern Cairngorms on 4 March
Lochaber 21 March Image copyright SAIS Lochaber
Image caption Whiteout conditions in Lochaber on 21 March

However, it said: "We will continue to monitor weather and snow conditions leading up to and during the Easter holidays.

"Mountain information will continue to be provided on the SAIS blogs for the next period and for the Easter weekends.

Cornices at Lochnagar on 27 February Image copyright SAIS Southern Cairngorms
Image caption Overhanging ledges of snow called cornices at Lochnagar in the Southern Cairngorms on 27 February
Highland cow in a forested glen Image copyright SAIS Southern Cairngorms
Image caption A Highland cow basking in spring sunshine in a forest of a Southern Cairngorms glen at the weekend

"We recommend that mountain-goers venturing into the hills continue to observe weather forecasts prior to their excursions, and visual observations of conditions during their trip.

"This information is important in making good plans and allowing for flexible decision-making when in the mountains and hills."

It warned that late spring snow falls could still occur and cause a hazard high up in the Cairngorms, Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor.

Aonach Mor west face on Sunday Image copyright SAIS Lochaber
Image caption The west face of Aonach Mor in Lochaber on Sunday
Applecross hills, Liathach, Beinn Alligin behind and the ridge of Beinn Eighe Image copyright SAIS Torridon
Image caption Applecross hills, Liathach, Beinn Alligin behind and the ridge of Beinn Eighe earlier this spring
Lochan a' Choire on 26 March Image copyright SAIS Creag Meagaidh
Hare in Southern Cairngorms on 23 March Image copyright SAIS Southern Cairngorms
Image caption A hare in the Southern Cairngorms on 23 March

All images copyrighted.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites