Page last updated at 01:28 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Scottish avalanche warning service's season starts

Buachaille Etive Mor
Three climbers died in an avalanche in Glencoe in January

An avalanche warning service covering five mountain areas has started its latest season.

The sportscotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) posts reports and forecasts online.

It provides assessments for North Cairngorms, South Cairngorms, Lochaber, Creag Meagaidh and Glencoe.

In January, three people lost their lives in one of Scotland's most serious avalanche incidents, which happened on Buachaille Etive Mor at Glencoe.

Brothers John Murphy, 63, from Portrush and Eamonn Murphy, 61, from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, along with Brian Murray, 46, of Monifieth in Angus, died.

The three killed were members of the An Teallach Mountaineering Club and among nine people caught by the avalanche.

Lancaster bomber

The SAIS is run from Glenmore Lodge, near Aviemore.

Earlier this year, the service's co-ordinator Mark Diggins revealed how a climber's fall during an avalanche was broken by a propeller from a crashed Lancaster bomber.

The fall came on the first day of the previous SAIS season.

Mr Diggins said the climber, who was badly injured, got into difficulty in Fuselage Gully on Beinn Eighe in Torridon last December.

The area is the site of a fatal training flight crash in 1951.

All eight on board died when the aircraft from RAF Kinloss in Moray hit Triple Buttress on Beinn Eighe on 14 March, 58 years ago.

Difficulties in recovering the bodies over several months led to the formation of RAF Mountain Rescue.

Most of the wrecked Lancaster was understood to have been destroyed in a later controlled explosion, but sections of wing and its Rolls Royce Merlin engines remain. A small brass plaque on part of the wreckage recalls the accident.

December's avalanche in Fuselage Gully involved a second climber who was able to dig himself out of the snow.

His friend was sent hurtling down the mountainside with a slab of snow before hitting the propeller.

The incident was one of 112 avalanches recorded by the SAIS last winter.

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