Highlands & Islands

Avalanche numbers on Scottish mountains 'among lowest'

Deep snow Image copyright Paul Noble/SAIS Southern Cairngoms
Image caption Snow in the Southern Cairngorms last month

Scotland's latest avalanche season has ended with one of the lowest numbers of recorded snow slides in 10 years.

The Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) has noted a provisional figure of 107 in 2018-19.

That would be the second lowest figure in the last decade, and compares to 261 avalanches last year.

The latest season saw the deaths of three climbers, two Frenchmen and a man from Switzerland, after an avalanche in a gully on Ben Nevis in March.

Image copyright SAIS Northern Cairngorms
Image caption Looking across the Lairig Ghru in the Cairngorms earlier this month

SAIS assesses avalanche hazards and provides daily information on the stability of snowpack in six mountain areas between December and April.

The areas are Lochaber, Glen Coe, Creag Meagaidh, Southern Cairngorms, Northern Cairngorms and Torridon.

SAIS will officially confirm the number of avalanches in a report which will be issued later this year.

Previous avalanche numbers

  • 2017-18 - 261
  • 2016-17 - 90
  • 2015-16 - 207
  • 2014-15 - 305
  • 2013-14 - 350
  • 2012-13 - 129
  • 2011-12 - 154
  • 2010-11 - 178
  • 2009-10 - 220

Avalanches can occur naturally, be triggered accidentally by people, or be caused deliberately to remove an avalanche risk in ski areas.

Hillwalkers, climbers and skiers use SAIS information to help them plan trips.

The service said there is still snow in the mountains above 750m (2,460ft), and some extensive areas of snow cover at about 900m (2,953ft) - mostly in the Northern Cairngorms and on Ben Nevis.

Image copyright SAIS Southern Cairngorms
Image caption SAIS forecasters frequently encounter local wildlife, including this mountain hare

An SAIS spokesman said: "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."

Image copyright Paul Noble
Image caption A scene in the Southern Cairngorms earlier this month
Image copyright SAIS Creag Meagaidh
Image caption Creag Meagaidh is one of the six areas covered by SAIS

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