I participated in a Chris Walker Trust avalanche workshop in early January, and would just like to pass on my thanks to both yourself Alan and Richard for providing a valuable learning experience.

The day was run really well- a relaxed and informative atmosphere, with lots of opportunities for asking questions and for meeting other enthusiastic WML trainees. I liked the emphasis placed on using the correct terminology when speaking about the snow pack, and the in-depth look at extended column tests.

A big leaning point from the day for me was the fact that extreme wind speeds can prevent snow from drifting into sheltered areas and can blow the snow clear of the hills. I previously (and wrongly) believed that drifting always occurs. This was in evidence the following day on Stob Ban, where myself and another course participant, Robert Morris, found much less wind-blown snow than expected due to the overnight gales.

Another big learning point was the idea of making your own avalanche forecast for the day based on the weather forecast, and comparing it with the actual SAIS forecast both before and during the journey. I find this approach has kept me on my toes, as the hazard can sometimes be higher or lower than that forecast, and it can be an easy pitfall to blindly follow the pie chart without applying our own judgement.

Kind regards,

James

 

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