One of nature's most destructive forces. You need avalanche awareness if out in the snow.



Avalanches are one of natures most destructive forces and are not just something that happens on 'big' mountains abroad. Each year in Scotland several people are killed because of avalanches, so it's essential that you have some knowledge on the subject if you're planning on doing any winter walking.


The Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS), run by the Scottish Sports Council is an excellent resource for both forecasts and background information about avalanches.

In particular, the page about avalanches is worth a read, as is the BBC's avalanche page.

General Advice

Avalanches are more common:
  • on slopes between 25° and 45°
  • in gullies
  • on convex slopes
  • between 24 & 48 hrs after heavy snowfall
  • below cornices (when they fall)
  • when fresh snow falls on an icy surface
  • when there are different layers of snow and one layer is unstable
  • 90% of all avalanches involving humans are triggered by their victims

Avalanches are less common on ridges - keep to the high ground. Always check the forecast. If in doubt, change your route or retreat.


SAIS produce daily avalanche forecasts and should form an essential part of planning if walking in Scotland.

Caught in an avalanche

And another...

Huge Man Made Avalanche

Video thanks to Marianne Berg



Title Image
The title image was taken in 2010 at Les Arc in France. It's a good example of an full surface type avalanche that has clearly been started by a person skiing - top right to top left of the inverted V.