Friday 27 February 2009
NEW TEXT SERVICE TO INCREASE SAFETY IN THE HILLS
Sportscotland’s acclaimed Avalanche Information Service has launched a new technological innovation today, which aims to ensure walkers, climbers and skiers have access to the latest safety information even once they have left for the mountains.
The Avalanche Report Service, which has only been available via the internet, can now be accessed by subscribing to a text service to mobile phones. The service will operate for any one or more of the five most popular Scottish mountain areas covered by the Avalanche Information Service reports: North Cairngorms, South Cairngorms, Lochaber, Glencoe and Creag Meagaidh.
For only £1 per message, a person can subscribe to the service by sending a key word to the number 88020. The relevant area text will be sent out daily at 1800 hours enabling users to adjust their plans if necessary. Having sent the keyword to the number 88020 subscribers will be sent a free text confirming that the text service is active, explaining the cost and how to terminate.
The SAIS daily forecasted avalanche report is produced by a dedicated team of professionals who assess the avalanche hazard in all weathers and comprises the observers interpretation of the previous days snowpack stability along with the weather forecast.
For winter mountain users it is critical to obtain the Avalanche Report from the SAIS at the correct time, this is essential in that the ‘best time’ for this is at the planning stage.
If the weather report and avalanche information are incorporated into the planning of any mountain walk, hill journey, ski tour or climbing excursion before going into the hills it will enable better and safer route choice.
Welcoming the new text service, Sports Minister Shona Robinson said: “Our hills and mountains are a great natural asset and are enjoyed by tens of thousands of Scots and visitors to the country every year. However the weather and conditions are constantly changing. This innovative technology will ensure walkers and climbers have the most up to date information available so they are able to stay safe and take an alternative route if they need to.“
Mark Diggins, SAIS Co-ordinator who is behind this new initiative explained what had encouraged him to develop the text service. “It has been demonstrated during recent research that once a plan has been made it is difficult to be dissuaded from that objective, and often, negative observations are brushed aside in the pursuit of a pre-determined goal. Therefore the sooner the weather and avalanche reports are incorporated into plans the more likely that good route choice is made when going into the Scottish winter mountains and hills.”
More information on how to subscribe to the text service, which went live today (Friday 27 February 2009) is available from SAIS website – www.sais.gov.uk
For further information contact:
Mark Diggins SAIS Co-ordinator, Tel: 01479 861264, 07785 736577
Bob Kinnaird, Principal, sportscotland National Centre Glenmore Lodge, Tel: 01479 861350
Notes to Editors:
The SAIS service operates seasonally from mid December to mid April.
The report is compiled then verified by the SAIS Co-ordinator and then presented to the public on the SAIS website www.sais.gov.uk.
Regional reports are also sent (via fax and email) to specific locations such as local rescue teams, police, shops, tourist and ranger offices.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) has the responsibility for communicating the mountain safety message among all those who enjoy the Scottish hills. The MCofS was awarded £155,300 from sportscotland this year.
The MCofS has a full time mountain safety adviser.
The sportscotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) provides an up-to-date report and forecast on avalanche hazards in Scotland’s five main climbing areas from December to April each year. The SAIS receives £121,700 of Scottish Government funding through sportscotland.
The Mountain Weather Information Service receives £42,300 annual government funding through sportscotland and covers Scotland’s five main upland areas.