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Safety first as Swiss Alpine Club goes digital

Safety first as Swiss Alpine Club goes digital


Marco Bomio. The mountain guide is
responsible for ski and alpine tours in the Bernese Oberland region. His job involves updates
and photos. That’s the most important
thing in the digitalization process. Today he is out in the
Jungfrau region. What’s the aim for today? I want to find out what the conditions are like now
and also whether there have been any
major changes. What exactly are we going to look at? Two years ago there was a rockslide
on the west ridge of the Mönch, A piece broke off there. I want to see whether it has stayed stable
or if there’s been more movement. A visual inspection shows the place hasn’t changed since Marco
Bomio’s last visit. There’s another key point
right next to it: This is the famous hanging glacier
on the southern slope of the Mönch. There are some breaks. We won’t just put it on the portal
and say: “Caution,
debris due to breaks”. They’ll disappear,
it will snow over them. But what we will say is not
to go too near to them. There needs to be a
warning on the portal. With the glacial retreat the tours have to be updated
more often than before. It costs up to CHF 40 a year
to use the information provided by Marco Bomio and his colleagues. The platform has tours for various
mountain sports. The aim is for 10,000 tours. The platform is part of the
SAC’s new website, costing around CHF 8 million. The tour
descriptions in the books are now being
gradually digitalized. The SAC is not the only one: There are already some online platforms,
such as Hikr and Gipfelbuch. These are free of charge and are fed with data
from numerous users. So there is some
scepticism regarding the funding of the
SAC platform. The challenge is to use the income to finance
its maintenance. With climate change the route descriptions need
to be updated more often. That’s the greatest challenge,
to be able to manage that. At the moment the portal
has 1,500 subscribers. But that isn’t yet enough
to cover the costs. Are you overestimating your target group,
those who plan their tours independently? We don’t think so. On the one hand our
training courses are always full every year, on the other hand our member
numbers are constantly rising. Our members are all
mountain sports fans who need a portal like this. The effort that goes into updating
the tours is clear from Marco Bomio’s work. On the Jungfrau too, he
examines a tour that is rapidly changing. I’m sceptical,
I don’t like it much. There are crumbling areas
on both sides of the glacier. You can see debris at the bottom. OK, on skis it only
takes 2 min. to get down, but precisely these 2 min.
are crucial. He notes on the portal
that the route is precarious and how to avoid the
critical part. It didn’t used to matter if a guide only came out
every ten years, not much changed,
but now there’s no chance. If the guide comes out in print the information only lasts
for two or three years. The new SAC portal is not likely to replace the
existing mountain sports portals, but to supplement them.

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