Well what can I say about this season: Frustrating, disappointing, typical or just inevitable with the global weather patterns at the moment.
For once I felt all prepared, team chosen, rookies taken on and a training day run. New stretcher, new pads and all tickety boo” and then none of the white stuff!
The STV weather team came up here in December to film Bodie and myself to augment The SAIS message for winter and they said the weather patterns were looking like 2010 – they might be but in 2010 we had snow on the ground before the cold clear weather! However even without the support of HIE we managed to make snow on our beginners lifts which enabled firstly school groups the public to get a few weeks sliding. A little natural snow (most of it being caught by the Lecht) helped us open the Cairnwell T’bar and Butcharts Access till it turned warm and scuppered that. As of 16th Feb, we are shutting till Snowsports are possible again.
Myself and Bodie have been featured in the national press extending as far as the Metro in London. It was a bit of nice news amongst the Brexit doom and gloom which celebrated her being the first qualified Avalanche Search and Rescue dog at a ski area in UK.
The full-time patrollers were invited to join Braemar Mountain rescue teams avalanche training day which was great co-operation and useful from the team’s response to organised avalanche rescue and on medical guidelines of the medical treatment of avalanche victims. Thank you BRMT
I had an interesting weekend with SARDA looking at the role of the dog in avalanche rescue. They had invited two Norwegian dog handlers over who were very informative. Interesting points were learnt about scent behaviour, scent constituents, the dog’s ability to discriminate between the team’s scents and those needing found and training methods. Thanks to SARDA and the Norwegian SAR. On a positive note Will Davis and Jura (who both started their patrol and dog Search and rescue training with BASP, Nevis Range and SARDA) have now been accepted on the Norwegian programme. Congratulations to Will and Jura.
I also had an interesting afternoon on the hill a couple of Saturdays ago, first bumping into Sam Noble one of the Southern Cairngorm SAIS observers in which she showed a very interesting unstable layer in the snow pack of surface hoar, faceted crystals and rapidly meting cup crystals.
I then caught up with Aberdeen Mountain Rescue team having a training day on avalanche. They had dug a great mock site and were happy to bury one of their rookies for Bodie to have a go demonstrating her skills. From a well probed, trampled debris site she honed in straight on the victim indicating by digging and barking. AMRT then gave an impressive demo on efficient effective digging. Thanks to AMRT and Brian Goldsworthy for inviting us to join them.
On the more day to day stuff our rookie patroller Freya Hunter has settled into the job well. We are all enjoying passing on skills, routines etc just wish there was more snow to play with.
Record keeping and risk assessments are being scrutinised and signed for. No RIDDOR reports have needed to be submitted as yet, new pads have been deployed. Having been shaken by the HSE it does make one more careful and try to look at familiar areas with new eyes.
Here is hoping for new snow and the semblance of a season after writing this on 15th Feb 2019