Highlands & Islands

Avalanche debris spotted from Inverness-Edinburgh train

Avalanche debris at Drumochter Image copyright David Henderson
Image caption The slide had occurred on a hillside at Drumochter

Debris from an avalanche in the Cairngorms has been photographed by a passenger on a train passing through the Cairngorms.

David Henderson took his snap while travelling on the 07:55 Inverness to Edinburgh on Thursday morning.

The Scottish Avalanche Information Service said it was a "good photo of a full depth avalanche".

Mountaineering Scotland said it highlighted the need for hillwalkers to be aware of potential avalanche risk.

The Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) had received an earlier report of the slide at Drumochter.

It described it as a "typical spring full depth avalanche that's gone to depth" caused by water penetrating the snow pack and "lubricating" the ground beneath.

Potential risk

SAIS said these types of avalanches often occurred at the end of Scotland's avalanche season.

A spokesman said: "With this avalanche type it is difficult to predict the time of its release, a human's weight is most unlikely to trigger it.

"People in the hills just need to be aware during this very mild period that there may be bodies of snow like this which may pose a threat.

"However, the likelihood of a person being affected would be most unlikely and very unlucky."

Mountaineering Scotland, which represents the interests of climber, walkers and skiers, said the slide highlighted the potential risk for avalanches even in what has been a mild winter so far.

A spokesman said: "Temperatures have gone up and down and snow has come and gone.

"But anyone heading for the hills should be properly prepared for full winter conditions and remember that repeated freezes and thaws mean that what snow there is may be rock hard and very slippery, so crampons and an ice axe are essential.

"Weather and conditions underfoot can change very dramatically in a short space of time and experienced mountaineers know the importance of checking weather and avalanche forecasts and adjusting their plans accordingly."

Image copyright SAIS Southern Cairngorms
Image caption The scene in the Southern Cairngorms earlier this week, but Mountaineering Scotland warns weather in Scotland's hills can change quickly

Scotland's avalanche information season runs from about mid-December to mid-April.

SAIS assesses snow and avalanche conditions in six mountain areas. They are Lochaber, Glen Coe, Creag Meagaidh, Southern Cairngorms, Northern Cairngorms and Torridon.

Thirty avalanches have been recorded so far in the latest season.

Last season, the service recorded 144 avalanches. Three people died, the first avalanche fatalities the SAIS recorded since 2015-16.

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