As Head of Skiing courses at Glenmore lodge and having led groups across the world, there is little Andy doesn’t know regarding mountain safety. Following the school of thought that prevention is better than cure, the talk focused on avoiding being caught in an avalanche situation. Sharing tips on how to plan properly by following the weather, reading the terrain and plotting safe routes Andy emphasised that the planning stage should take up most of your effort staying safe on the mountain. More than just natural factors the talk covered the human element of avalanche prevention. Recognising psychological heuristics, or shortcuts, allows the individual to objectively asses a situation. This is important as these heuristics can lead even the most experienced among us to make mistakes and put ourselves in danger.
Bringing the talk to life by demonstrating different types of hazard through his vast bank of photos and videos, he was able to offer first-hand experience of the exact situations. Moreover, displays of the spectacular avalanches that were outcomes of many of these situations, put the importance of the talk into stark reality. From windslabs to wet snow, the talk covered the different risks associated with different types of snow and weather conditions. Additionally, Andy explained the variances in the snowpack and triggers that could cause an avalanche, and how to find safer areas in avalanche-prone terrain.
Not to undervalue the importance of proper and thorough planning, any talk on avalanche safety should also look at what to do should the worst happen. It was explained that it is mandatory to have at least a basic rescue kit (transceiver, probe and shovel) whilst exploring off piste. In addition to this each member should know exactly what to do and how to use their equipment to search for an avalanche victim. Andy explained how simple the technology was to use, and this was highlighted at the Canary Wharf talk when a participant was given the opportunity to search for a hidden transceiver. In addition to this Ross from Arc’teryx talked through the new Voltair ABS pack. This battery-powered airbag allows the user to practise firing the pack, this was demonstrated at the conclusion of each of the talks.
Overall, each talk was extremely educational without overloading participants with information. Both Andy and Ross expertly fielded questions and could relate the information provided to their own experiences which brought the series to life.
Missed out? – We will be running our talks again at the beginning of next season, watch this space for tickets!