New Beginners Guide to Avalanches eBook

It has been a rather hectic week for me dealing with the iBookstore amazon and ISBN, not to mention finishing off part 2 of the avalanche series over on UKC and writing another piece on winter skills for them. After my post yesterday I thought i’d give a breakdown of the new book as well as point out my next publication as I dabble i the world of publishing.

The Mountaineer’s Guide to Avalanches is a simple book that is around 15000 words long and has around 30 illustrations to help give any UK winter hillwalker, mountaineer or climber a better understanding of Avalanches.

It starts off with a story about me being avalanched many years ago and moves into a few stories of others who have not been so luck. If you like giving a backdrop of why you need to know something about avalanche risk when heading in the mountains in Winter. The next chapter gives  a brief history of our understanding of avalanches and the start of avalanche research.

The following chapter talks about the basics of snow and the many types we can get. Inparticular we finally start to talk about what helps bond snow together and what can have both positive and negative effects on the stability within the snowpack. This if you like is a underlying principle of snow mechanics and how snow changes or metamorphosises beneath our feet.

The fourth chapter describes the parts of the avalanche, if you like giving you a basic vocabulary of avalanche specific terms. What helps keep snow in place and what increases the risk of slab avalanches. Again fairly fundemental principles with which we explore more practically as the book progresses. Topics include convex slopes, optimum angle for avalanches, conice hazards, and the effect of aspect and altitude.

The next chapter is the start practical elements and looks at the Scottish Avalanche Information Service avalanche reports and how to interpret them. Before the next chapter takes this forecast and looks at making real time avalanche assessment on the hill. At its most basic it is about looking around you for telltale signs that may confirm or otherwise change what forecast said. These observations are described as you might experience them on a day out before we look at digging hasty pits and get our hands in the snow. We end this chapter by reconstructing it in the WARTS approach to avalanche assessment and avoidance, if you like giving us a framework to work within.

The penultimate chapter looks at what we can do to both survive an avalanche ourselves or help others we have seen avalanched get out alive. We look at what to take on the hill to aid our searches and recovery, as well as how to go about searching and avalanche for survivors and digging them out quickly.

The final chapter looks at some of the ‘black spots’ in the UK and links to the SAIS map of known avalanches and finishes on their 7 top tips for avoiding avalaches. All in all this a really good guide and introduction to the subject of snow and avalanche danger. It is just that though, an overview,  although it will help point you in the right direction for a greater understanding.

The book cost £5.14 on amazon and is available for kindle devices and it cost £4.99 in iTunes as an iBook for iPad. Whilst the content is the same in both, the layout works much better as an iBook, as Kindle users will know layout is not the devices strong point. All the screen shots are from the iPad version. Sadly this year the book won’t be available in paper form, I may make a print on demand version for next winter, however the cost will be considerably more.

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