Enter The Conversation. Creating a stronger community through sharing stories, knowledge, and news amongst people who have a curious fascination with avalanches.
Enter The Conversation. Creating a stronger community through sharing stories, knowledge, and news amongst people who have a curious fascination with avalanches.
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In our first episode of The Avalanche Hour, we hear from professional backcountry skier Noah Howell about his history with avalanche education and a close call he dealt with in Alaska. Colin Zacharias shares some risk management strategies that can be used by both recreational backcountry users as well as the professional community. Finally, Scott Savage of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center talks to us about the season's snowpack up in his neck of the woods.
Our second episode of The Avalanche Hour highlights a story of an avalanche accident on Snoqualmie Pass from Roger Strong. We talk to Utah Avalanche Center's Drew Hardesty about shared responsibility amongst users in areas of high use backcountry avalanche terrain. We round out the show with a seasonal snowpack roundup from Alex Marienthal of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.
Our third podcast highlights some thoughts and reflections from Kevin Grove of Bend, Oregon. Kevin talks about his experiences skiing in the Central Oregon mountains and how his risk tolerance has shifted since bringing a daughter into his life. Caleb rounds out the show by reflecting on some complacent decision making in low consequence terrain.
This episode will be broken down into two separate episodes, and will talk about some of the details of how avalanche education within the United States will be changing in the next year. We sit down with Kirk Bachman of Stanley Idaho. Kirk wears many hats and one of them is that of the Chair of the Education Committee for the American Avalanche Association. Kirk Explains some of the reasoning for the upcoming Professional/Recreational split and how it can benefit different user groups. In part 2 of the episode, we finish our conversation with Kirk about how you may fit into the new paradigm of avalanche education. We then talk to IFMGA and heli ski guide Jonathon Spitzer. Jonathon also works as an instructor for AIARE and the AMGA, and brings some perspective about how the upcoming Pro/Rec split may benefit the professional guiding community.
In this episode, we talk to Nick Meyers. Nick is the Director of the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center as well as the lead climbing ranger for the area. We talk to Nick about springtime avalanche concerns all over the western US. He also lets us know some things to think about when planning a climbing or skiing trip to Mt. Shasta. Enjoy!
In this episode, we talk to Bill Nalli of the Utah Department of Transportation. Listen in as we get a glimpse of what it is like to be a highway forecaster in the heart of the Wasatch mountains. Bill explains some of the history of avalanche forecasting and mitigation in Little Cottonwood Canyon then goes on to explain some challenges that currently exist, and explains a plan with some alternative solutions for the future. I think you'll really enjoy this one!
In episode 2, we talk to IFMGA guide, avalanche educator, and writer Joe Stock about slowing down to make better decisions, learning from our mistakes, and managing uncertainty in avalanche terrain. Check out Joe's website at www.stockalpine.com to read his blogs, hire him as a guide, or buy his book, The Alaska Factor 2. We also hear an update from AIARE's executive director, Richard Bothwell regarding Pro courses for this winter.
In the third episode this season, we travel east of the Rockies. We chat with a snow ranger from Mt. Washington Avalanche Center in New Hampshire. Helon Hoffer grew up hiking and skiing in the White Mountains. He explains his journey to finding his job as a snow ranger and avalanche forecaster. We talk about the intricacies of micro scale forecasting for a busy- and windy zone.
In Episode 2.4, we hear from Scott Savage about a great project he is working on with the help of Bill Williamson and Ethan Greene. It is the long awaited unveiling of the Avalanche Near Miss database that will hopefully create a safer culture within the professional avalanche community. We then turn inward as we hear from Nancy Bockino of Jackson Hole, WY as she talks about embracing being human in the avalanche environment. Hope you enjoy!!
In episode 2.5 you will hear from Pete Gompert- a design engineer from Black Diamond and Craig Gordon- a forecaster from the Utah Avalanche Center. Pete talks about the Black Diamond Jet Force Airbag packs and how he helped to come up with the concept of using a fan to inflate an airbag pack. We then sit down with Craig to talk about his career within the professional avalanche arena. We especially highlight the work that Craig has done to help start and develop the Know Before You Go program, that has helped bring free avalanche education to thousands of people around the world. Enjoy!
On December 19th, 2016 in the White Pine drainage of Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT, two friends triggered a large deep slab avalanche as the sun was setting on the far side of the Salt Lake Valley. Tune in as we interview survivors Jake Thelen and Sam Kapacinskas as they share their story of a very bad day in the backcountry. This episode is broken in to two parts.
This episode explores where you would fit into the new avalanche education paradigm. We sit down with Sarah Carpenter of The American Avalanche Institute as we discuss the history of AAI, what types of avalanche courses they offer, and how they recommend implementing a systems based approach to recreating in backcountry avalanche terrain. We then discuss some scenarios to help find the right course for the right participant. Sarah also explains the youth avalanche education program that AAI has helped implement in the Jackson Hole Middle and High School.
In this episode, we sit down with Karl Birkeland. Karl is the director of the National Avalanche Center and adjunct professor for Montana State University's Snow Science program. Karl has found a balance as a researcher, educator, and practitioner. We talk to Karl about the history and evolution of snowpack tests, and he gives us some insight about where he thinks these tests might move in the future. Karl then shares some formative experiences that he has had with avalanches- that have helped shaped his career path. Enjoy!
In Episode 2.9, we sit down with Weston Deutschlander. Wes is holding on to the free heel tradition as he works as an avalanche educator and guide. We talk about a close call he had while cat ski guiding last year and process some of the factors that went into that day. Enjoy!
We chat with Mike Rheam, who is the head of the snow safety department at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and a forecaster for the Bridger Teton Avalanche Center. We chatted in November in the Avalanche Lab at JHMR while Mike highlighted some of the inner workings of the forecasting process for both the ski area and the backcountry. He talks about the variety of different avalanche mitigation tools available to his team, as well as shares some stories and advice to younger avalanche workers. We also chat with Jon Coppi from Black Diamond about some great PIEPS products. Hope you enjoy!
Episode 2.11 features Lynne Wolfe. Lynne is a longtime avalanche educator and guide in the Tetons. She is also the editor of The Avalanche Review publication for the A3. We talk about her background, some of her mentors, as well as what goes in to putting the publication that ties our community together. Enjoy!
In our twelve episode of season 2, we talk to Michael Silitch of the BRASS Foundation. On January 5th, 2015, two members of the US Ski team were killed in an avalanche in Solden, Austria. The death of Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack hit the ski racing community very hard, and from this tragedy, the BRASS Foundation was formed to help bring avalanche education to ski racing programs . The Bryce and Ronnie Athlete Snow Safety Foundation is responsible for bringing high quality avalanche education to ski racing programs around the country. Michael is also an IFMGA certified guide, and shares some insight from his guiding career. Enjoy!
Episode 2.13 features Rod Newcomb. Rod is a pioneer of the snow and avalanche arena and shares some of his experiences since moving to the Tetons almost 60 years ago. I think it is so valuable to share interviews like this, as Rod has so much mileage in the mountains as an avalanche forecaster, guide, and educator. There are a couple audio blips in this recording due to some technical problems and some background noise, but the recording does increase in quality as the show progresses. I hope you enjoy!
This episode is a one-two punch featuring two guests. Sean Zimmerman-Wall and Alex Taran both started their careers as Snowbird Ski Patrollers learning and working amongst the walls of Little Cottonwood Canyon. They both ventured to South America to extend their ski seasons, where they both started guiding. Alex went on to start the South American Beacon Project, and Sean became part owner of Patagonia Ski Tours. Tune in as we explore their careers, and passion projects within the Snow and Avalanche Arena.
In episode 2.15, I sit down with Hans Hjelde of Snowbasin, UT. Enjoy our chat with Hans...I know I did as we sat down, threw back a few drinks and Hans talks about his experience as a ski patroller, ski guide, dog handler, backcountry forecaster, and volunteer climbing ranger in places like Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand, Danali, AK, Gulmarg India, Snowbasin, UT, and the Ruby Mountains of NE Nevada. I am hoping next season, I will be able to compile another episode featuring other people's experience forecasting and working in Gulmarg, as it seems like such a unique avalanche forecasting experience.... Enjoy the episode!
In the last episode of season 2, we hear a story from John Lemnotis. John was backcountry riding with some friends in early June a few years back when he was involved and injured in an avalanche. John is a ski and rock guide based out of the Wasatch...or wherever his van is parked...
In the first episode of Season 3, we sit down with Erich Peitzsch- A physical scientist with the USGS. Erich has a background in ski patrolling and avalanche forecasting, and is also working on his PhD from Montana State. Erich talks about the forecasting program for the Going to the Sun Road at Glacier National Park, and explains some of his research. Enjoy!
For more information on GNP's avalanche forecasting program as well as Erich's research- Check out these links. Thanks to Peri Sasnett for sharing these!
Tune in to this episode where we talk to Brian Lazar. Brian is the deputy director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. We chat about the many roles he has had in the Snow and Avalanche world, discuss the structure of the CAIC, and what a day in the life looks like. We also give a reminder of the 2018 SAW season and ask for input from listeners who may have been at the 2018 ISSW. Enjoy! Music on this episode is performed by Gramatik.
In this episode, We highlight a submission from Greg Cunningham on his favorite couple presentations from ISSW ’18. We then jump into an interview with Jake Hutchinson. Jake is a longtime ski patroller, forecaster, guide, and avalanche educator. Last year, Jake wrote a great article in Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal titled “Guilt” where he talked about issues surrounding perhaps the most pivotal experience of his career. He opens the door on some tough issues facing specifically the patrol and guiding world related to dealing with traumatic events. Do you have thoughts or input on these topics? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to send your feedback. Music on this episode was performed by GRiZ and Anitek. Hope you enjoy!
People are starting to ride, and people are starting to trigger avalanches! Even if it's not snowing where you are, it is not a bad idea to start tracking what the snowpack is doing where your mid winter backcountry trip may be. This episode has an introduction to the A3's new Executive Director, an awesome ISSW recap from Utah Avalanche Center's Greg Gagne, and a great interview from former ski patroller and supervisor of UDOT's avalanche safety program: Liam Fitzgerald. Hope you enjoy!
This episode features Billy Rankin from Irwin Guides. Irwin Guides, based in Crested Butte Colorado has international year round guided trips- pretty much everything from rafting to climbing to skiing to fly fishing. They have a bad ass cat ski and backcountry ski operation in a zone that has yearly snow averages far exceeding the typical continental snowpack. Tune in as we chat with Billy about his career, some of the intricacies of their ski tenure and weather patterns, as well as how their operation manages uncertainty within the snowpack. Music on this episode was performed by: GRiZ - Get Down Feat Sunsquabi and Manic Focus Gramatik: Muy Tranquilo
This episode includes a story and reflections of a guided heli skier being caught in a an avalanche. We then feature an interview with Ted Steiner who is an avalanche forecaster and consultant for the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway in Essex, MT. Find out how to enter in this season's first podcast contest, and listen to find out how your donation to the American Avalanche Association can go further this month! Enjoy and Happy Holidays. Music on today's episode is from Broke for Free, The Polish Ambassador, and Podington Bear. All Made possible by the Creative Commons License and distributed through the Free Music Archive. A link to a video about the work Ted and his forecasting team do is here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIjXmzIrPO4
In this episode, we interview Roger Coit. Roger is the faculty lead for the Leadville, CO based Colorado Mountain College Avalanche Science Program. Roger talks about his background and then what it has taken to develop this cutting edge program in the U.S. He explains what the program entails, what is expected of the students, and the value that this program will add to the avalanche industry in the U.S. www.coloradomtn.edu/avalanche-science Enjoy!
This episode features John Reller and Lane Critser. We talk about the C-RAD (Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment) organization as well as what goes into the training and utilization of Avalanche Dog Teams. It was a super fun interview to do with these guys, and I think you'll enjoy it. Check out C-RAD at www.c-rad.org. Music on this episode was Sunsquabi's "Reptile" (feat. Nicholas Gerlach) off their new album "Instinct". Taking us out of the hour was Cabin Sessions by GRiZ
You asked for it, we delivered it. Here is a bonus episode with Flight Paramedic and Vail Ski Patroller Graham Kane. Graham lays out some important fundamentals of post avalanche burial resuscitation and trauma care in a way that is digestable to all no matter your level of training. A must listen for anyone who spends time in backcountry avalanche terrain. Music by Anitek. Enjoy.
You might find it helpful to pull up these resources as Graham lays out the WMS and ICAR Medcom guidelines:
Tune in today as we sit down with Jamie Yount- the Program Manager for the Avalanche Safety Program for the Colorado Department of Transportation. Jamie reflects on his education, career, and the path that he has taken to find himself in this position. He explains how one of the largest state highway avalanche forecasting programs runs. Enjoy. Music on this episode by Schedule One Beats
In this episode, we talk the history of Colorado’s DOT program with Ray Mumford, as well as highlight a new book of the history of Ski Patrol in Colorado with John Cameron. Enjoy!
This episode features Mark Mueller. Mark has been one many hats in the Avalanche arena from The Executive Director of A3, to Ski Patrol Director at Squaw Valley to his current role as a highway forecaster for CAIC. There are so many good tidbits in this interview as Mark tells us his story, and gives a glimpse into his day to day routine. Music on this episode is by SoDown. Check out more tracks of theirs on SoundCloud!
In this episode, we chat with Jack Reuppel- Long time ski patroller and snow safety technician from Summit County, CO. Jack talks about some ideas on temporal variability of the snowpack. If you want to work with Jack on some of his research, email him at email@example.com. Enjoy the episode
We've got a great interview with Ben Pritchett- Forecaster, Guide, and Educator based out of Crested Butte, CO. Ben tells the story of his career, and also tells the story of the start of AIARE (American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education) of which he was very involved with for a number of years. We talk about some of the intricacies of forecasting within the Crested Butte area, the relationship between the Crested Butte Avalanche Center and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, and Ben rounds out the hour with an account of when he was surprised by the snowpack. This one is a good one. You will like. I promise.
Music on the episode: Gramatik: Klassikal & Somebody. Anitek: Volley Principle
This episode features Mark Dundas- avalanche forecaster at the Flathead Avalanche Center in Montana. Mark has been a ski patroller, railroad forecaster, avalanche educator, and has put in many years of trailwork for the National Park Service. He talks about the evolution of forecasting in the Flathead Region of Montana. Enjoy.
The corn harvest is on in the PNW! I've been busy in the last couple weeks, but was stoked to make time to review this episode. I think you will really appreciate it. We sit down with Evelyn Lees of the Utah Avalanche Center. She tells us about her career, and dives into a talk that she and Mark Staples have been sharing throughout the US during the Snow and Avalanche Workshop seasons. The topic involves being solo- or "effectively" solo in the backcountry. Enjoy.
As we wind down The Avalanche Hour Podcast season, I highlight a great interview with John Sykes. John is part psychologist, part guide, part educator, and part researcher. Some might say a full unicorn. John graduated recently with his Masters Degree from MSU, and has also recently started a phD program at Simon Fraser University. We chat about his life, about his work, and about his decision making in the backcountry.
For 45 years, billy barr has been taking weather observations every day from the same location in Gothic, CO. In the wintertime, he makes observations of avalanches of the numerous paths surrounding his house. billy has no vehicle. He skis into town for supplies as the road is closed in the winter. He loves numbers, and with all of this weather data over such an extended time, he has lots of numbers to look at. His work has caught the attention of scientists studying climate change. In this episode, we hear about his life and his work. Tune in.
Last episode of season 3 highlights an interview with longtime Heli Ski Guide Roger Atkins. Roger presented the paper Yin, Yang, and You at the 2014 ISSW. He outlined how approaching each day with a strategic mindset might help guiding operations choose appropriate terrain and manage clients in the best way. This will be a timeless episode, that would be helpful to review once the snow starts flying again. The beginning of the show has some background noise, but it decreases throughout the show. A link to Roger's Paper is below:http://arc.lib.montana.edu/snow-science/objects/ISSW14_paper_O9.02.pdf