So it’s that time of year again with the unofficial, official start of winter. Tomorrow the SAIS publish the first of the seasons avalanche forecast.
These come out daily at around 5pm for Lochaber, Glen Coe, Craig Meagaidh, Cairngorms and in Torridon on weekends and holidays. They forecast the next days avalanche conditions based upon the weather forecast and observed snow conditions from the current day.
It is an essential habit to get into when going out into the snowy mountains, whether it be for walking, mountaineering or climbing to check the forecast daily, in anticipation of your intended day out. This habit builds up an informed picture of the snow conditions, hazards and changes in the snow pack leading up to the day when you want to head out. Rather than just checking the one report the evening before, as you only get a snapshot in time. Or worse looking at it the morning having already decided where you are going. Or even worse not looking at it at all!
Check the forecast then decide what an appropriate route is.
There is a slight change to the hazard compass rose diagram in the forecast. Rather than having a coloured dot to indicate ‘pockets’ of instability in the snow pack, it is now represented by stripped coloured lines.
This is a handy PDF to interpret the forecast.
And a handy leaflet that you should be able to pick up called ‘Be Avalanche Aware’ describing the 3 main areas of when to take time to think about avalanches. Essentially all the time.