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Please share this warning with fellow walkers!

There has been an avalanche warning put out by the Live for the Outdoors forum around the Snowdonia area, as there has been instances of snow falling away from cornices.  Here are the tips provided by the article advising on walking in the hills, especially avalanche prone areas….

  1. If you are sinking in over ankle deep, just maybe you shouldn’t be there..
  2. Avoid leeward slopes (if the wind’s blowing from the north the leeward slope is the south side).
  3. Know that slopes are at their most dangerous between 25º and 50º- even low angle innocuous looking slopes can avalanche.
  4. Avoid run-out zones – below gullies or corrie head walls etc. ridges can be far safer than the bed of gullies.
  5. Note snow pack stability – look out for a dull white, opaque snow which ‘squeaks’ under the feet and breaks up in blocks.
  6. Raised foot prints are an indication that snow has been redistributed since it was deposited – probably creating a different lee slope.

…but to answer a few further questions about avalanches here a few extra points…

What is an Avalanche?

An avalanche is where snow falls down a hill or mountain in large amounts.  This is usually because the stability of the snow has been disturbed or where the amount of the snow fall that is resting on such unstable / steep group means that it falls away from the snow at points further up the face of the hill or mountain.

Src: Flickr, Strange Ones Photostream

Avalanche Warning. Source: Flickr, Joe Shlabotnik

Why do Avalanches occur?

Avalanches happen because snow is frequently deposited in multiple layers on mountain sides as the winter progresses.  It’s these layers that essentially fall apart from one another from having dissimilar properties.  These properties could include differences in the density of the snow, water content, and the ice content for them to not properly become one wedge of snow, like falling snow typically does.

What Types of Avalanche Exist?

An avalanche has the capabilities to be wet or dry, or even a bit of both.  This is quite obviously defendant on whether there is water present in the snow.

Avalanches can be loose snow avalanches or a slab avalanche – both quite self-explanatory but neither way not too friendly, so please be careful after or during snow falls.

More Resources on Avalanches

I like to refer to this excellent avalanche educational resource – something that has a wealth of information on both the make-up of avalanches, influencing factors and the types that exist.

Also, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland has some excellent advice pages on Avalanches.

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