Petestack Blog

8 March 2009

Avalanche awareness

Filed under: Climbing,Walking — admin @ 8:56 pm

Today I was on an an avalanche awareness workshop run by Abacus Mountaineering for the Fort William Mountain Festival. It was wild weather, with vicious winds closing down the Aonach Mor gondola for the day shortly after we took it up in the morning, plenty of stinging precipitation and near white-out conditions most of the time.

Our instructor was Nigel Hooker and we were also fortunate to be able to follow SAIS observer Blair Fyffe for most of the day and watch him at work. While naturally observing and discussing snow conditions as continuously as possible (ie ‘not very’ in the case of discussing!) on such a foul day, we also saw Blair taking measurements from layers in a pit and Nigel performing a Rutschblock test.

The day finished with a discussion at the bottom cafe after walking down the mountain bike downhill track (not the ‘walk of shame’ because we knew there was no gondola to miss!). We came up with our own ‘report’ for the day and ‘forecast’ for tomorrow before comparing these to the ones Blair was about to publish, and were happy to note that they were remarkably similar.

All in all, a very good day although the weather did make some things difficult. But Blair and his colleagues are out dealing with this all the time, and that’s how you get such useful reports to help you decide whether or not to forsake the comfort of your nice, warm home for a day on the hill!

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