Winter mountaineers will benefit from safety advice after the seminar

Winter mountaineers will benefit from safety advice after the seminar

A group of experts met to discuss how to improve safety for walkers, mountaineers and climbers heading for Scotland’s hills in winter.

The seminar looked at ways to get across to those heading for the hills how to stay as safe as possible during the Scottish winter.

It follows eight deaths in avalanches over the recent season.

It was also revealed a pilot scheme to expand avalanche reports to Torridon in north-west Scotland is planned.

The meeting, at the Glenmore Lodge national outdoor training centre, attracted organisations from across the UK and heard that, although the number of human-triggered avalanches was lower than previously at 18, they had resulted in the eight deaths.

The seminar was organised by the Snow and Avalanche Foundation for Scotland and had representatives from Scottish Mountain Rescue, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the British Mountaineering Council, British Mountain Guides, Association of Mountaineering Instructors, British Association of Ski Patrollers, Mountain Training UK, Mountain Training Scotland, Glenmore Lodge and Play y Brenin and the sportscotland Avalanche Information Service.

The April meeting followed a 2011 seminar on decision making in avalanche terrain.

Organisers said work will now continue to develop core avalanche education messages next winter. These will be developed over the next few months and a leaflet and other resources are planned to be available in autumn 2013.

Mark Diggins, co-ordinator of the SAIS, said: “I was pleased by the significant attendance of representatives from throughout the UK and the commitment and co-operation that took place in considering how future avalanche and mountain information can be consistently presented to all those who wish to enjoy the Scottish winter mountain environment.”

Heather Morning, mountain safety advisor for the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said: “The MCofS endorses the Safos initiative to draw together all interested parties across the UK involved in the education and delivery of avalanche awareness in the Scottish hills.

“The recent meeting provided the opportunity for some productive and thoughtful discussion, which will hopefully lead to a more structured and consistent message being delivered to the mountaineering public.”

Bob Kinnaird, principal of Glenmore Lodge, added: “It is vital that organisations continue to work together to help ensure climbers and walkers stay as safe as possible whilst enjoying the Scottish mountains.

“Everyone who attended the recent seminar is committed to building on the information which is already available and we will strive continually to improve the service provided.”

The sportscotland Avalanche Information Service, which publishes daily forecasts of the avalanche, snow, and mountain conditions at the five most popular areas of Scotland during the season, has a budget this year of £160,000 which includes SAIS avalanche forecasting operation, contingency for forecast provision during prolonged winter conditions, a pilot avalanche forecast service for the Torridon area, North West of Scotland and commitment to avalanche education initiatives.

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