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Fewer avalanches recorded in Cairngorms and rest of Highlands this winter by Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS)


By Mike Merritt

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Fewer avalanches were recorded this winter.
Fewer avalanches were recorded this winter.

The Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) has ended this season's forecasts – with one of its lowest totals of snow slides.

It logged 158 avalanches this winter compared to 212 last year.

The daily avalanche information reports covered the six operational areas of Lochaber, Glencoe, Creag Meagaidh, Southern Cairngorms, Northern Cairngorms and Torridon.

Snowpack conditions will continue to be monitored, but the daily service has ended.

There has been less snow about this year, which would help explain the low number of avalanches.

But despite the previous winter having the greatest dump of snow in over a decade, fewer people on the hills in the pandemic also triggered far fewer potentially deadly avalanches.

As a result of the Covid travel restrictions, hillwalkers and climbers had been limited to their local area.

Ski centres were shut for much of the season and the great hordes of outdoor winter enthusiasts from south of the border and abroad were missing.

Last winter's avalanche total was well down on the previous year's 241.

There were no avalanche-related deaths last winter or this season.

There was one avalanche fatality during SAIS's 2019-20 season when rescuers recovered the body of missing climber Andrew Vine.

Mr Vine (41), from the Manchester area, and a female climbing companion were on 4006 feet high Aonach Mor when they were hit a big snow slide.

His climbing partner, who managed to walk to the ski area on the mountain despite her injuries, was carried 'several hundred metres' by the avalanche. The pair were not roped together having just finished a climb.

The first avalanche deaths in three years were recorded on the country's mountains in the 2018/19 season, when three climbers died on Ben Nevis.

Raphael Aymon, Cédric Ravimet and Adrien Robez-Masson, from France and Switzerland, all died in the snow slide in Number 5 Gully on Ben Nevis on March 12, 2019.

The only survivor of the accident was Swiss citizen Mathieu Biselx.

Mr Biselx described how the party of four experienced climbers were flung down the gully by a torrent of heavy snow which fell 1500 feet on to them.

In the winter of 2012/13 eight people died from deadly snow slides.

Total number of avalanches and fatalities recorded in SAIS seasons:

2021-22 – 158 (0)

2020-21 – 212 (0)

2019-20 – 241 (1)

2018-19 – 144 (3)

2017-18 – 260 (0)

2016-17 – 90 (0)

2015-16 – 207 (3)

2014-15 – 305 (1)

2013-14 – 350 (0)

2012-13 – 129 (8)

2011-12 – 154 (0)

2010-11 – 178 (1)

2009-10 – 220 (5)


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