Mountain Training Scotland supports new Be Avalanche Aware app


MTS and SAIS

Today (18th December 2017) George McEwan, the Executive Officer of Mountain Training Scotland (part of the Mountain Training network) handed over a cheque for £1500 to Mark Diggins, Coordinator of the Scottish Avalanche Information Service. The money is to support the development of a new Android phone app, which like the recently released app for iOS, will be based on the Be Avalanche Aware process.

The Android app, like its existing iOS cousin, as well as providing an intuitive set of guidelines to help the user with their decision making process, features such as: SAIS daily avalanche reports, mountain info blogs, notifications, and tools to help users to determine critical slope angles, the direction a slope faces in relation to published avalanche hazard and your location will be incorporated.

The Be Avalanche Aware process is a key part of the avalanche awareness skills of Winter Mountain Leaders enabling them to make informed judgments regarding avalanche hazards and its attendant risks. These phone apps provide Winter Mountain leaders with a handy tool to support their practical skills of evaluating the terrain, snowpack, weather conditions and human factors, at key places and situations to draw sensible educated conclusions regarding avalanche hazard and risk.

Background

In 2011 the Be Avalanche Aware initiative was developed following a collaboration between many agencies and groups from throughout the UK and further afield with the objective of addressing the avalanche situation in Scotland. Organised by the Snow and Avalanche Foundation of Scotland (SAFOS) and managed by the SAIS, the BAA initiative was introduced in the winter of 2013 with the production of a BAA leaflet.

The Winter Mountain Leader scheme provides training and assessment of the skills and techniques necessary to lead walking parties on the hills and mountains of the UK and Ireland under winter conditions, excluding roped climbing on technical terrain. The demands made on the Mountain Leader under winter conditions are much greater than in summer. The intensive nature of the experience, the demands it makes on fitness and the need to navigate accurately and safely over the chosen route in adverse weather conditions present a challenge that requires the leader to have knowledge and experience well above that normally required in summer conditions. Therefore completion of the Mountain Leader scheme is a prerequisite for all candidates and the Winter Mountain Leader scheme is a natural progression, building on many of the skills already acquired.

The Winter Mountain Leader scheme integrates personal experience, training and assessment. Since its introduction in 1965 the scheme has achieved widespread recognition by education authorities, youth organisations and individuals for ensuring technical competence. The scheme is operated on behalf of Mountain Training by Mountain Training Scotland and the qualification is valid throughout the UK even though all training and assessment courses are run in Scotland. Mountain Training recognises this qualification as the lowest level of qualification suitable for those who operate independently while leading walking groups in mountainous country in the UK in winter conditions.