Lucky escapes among 241 avalanches last winter

Lucky escapes among 241 avalanches last winter

More than a dozen climbers had “lucky escapes” after being swept down mountainsides by avalanches last winter.

Fifteen people were caught in snow slides, according to the Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS).

One group of roped together climbers was saved by a nut, a piece of equipment used as a rockface anchor point.

The incident happened on Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain.

There was one fatality during SAIS’s 2019-20 season, according to its annual report.

Andrew Vine, 41, from the Manchester area, died following an avalanche on Aonach Mor, near Fort William, in February.

SAIS recorded a total of 241 avalanches last season, which was cut short by the Covid-19 lockdown.

The service’s latest full season for six mountain areas – Creag Meagaidh, Glen Coe, Torridon, Northern Cairngorms, Southern Cairngorms and Lochaber – has just begun and will run until about mid-April.

Since November it had been providing a stand-by forecasting service for the Northern Cairngorms and Lochaber due to heavy snowfalls.

Avalanches can be triggered by the natural collapse of overhanging ledges of snow called cornices or accidentally by skiers, hillwalkers and climbers.

The information provided by SAIS on the stability of the snowpack in the hills is used by mountain rescue teams and also by hillwalkers and climbers in planning trips into the hills and mountains.

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