Get avy smart at 2011 Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop

Backcountry skiers, splitboarders, snowshoers, snowmobilers and anyone else who recreates in Utah’s winter backcountry absolutely has to be smart about avalanche conditions and safety. Education is key, but even if you’ve taken the requisite avalanche courses, continuing to learn is important. That’s why attending the annual Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop should be a yearly tradition.

Utah Avalanche Forecaster, Craig Gordon, presents at the 2010 Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop. Image courtesy Utah Avalanche Center.

The 2011 Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop happens on Saturday, November 5 from  1:00 pm  to 5:00 pm.  The Utah Avalanche Center will be hosting class at The Depot in downtown Salt Lake City where the backcountry community will gather to examine past avalanches, learn about snow science, ask questions from the professional avy forecasters, control workers and skiers, and reconstruct two accidents from last season so everyone can discuss what can be learned from those experiences.

Admission is $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Ages 21 and over will only be admitted. The Depot is located at 13 North, 400 West at the Gateway. The cost of admission includes parking, afternoon refreshments, and an evening social at the Blue Goose. Proceeds help fund the Utah Avalanche Center, so the workshop is also a good way to support the men and women who work hard to keep us on top of the snow, instead of buried beneath it.

Utah Avalanche Center

Below is a schedule of presentations from the Utah Avalanche Center.

1:05-1:40 Dirty Little Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth- Jim Steenburgh

Global warming, it’s ongoing and future impacts on Utah snow, and some of the dirty little secrets of climate change over Utah.

1:45-2:05 Spatial Variability in Steep, Complex Terrain- Zach Guy

More winter recreationists are venturing into steep, avalanche chutes and “extreme” terrain each year. Understanding the slope-scale spatial variability of weak layers and how they relate to terrain is critical for prediction and mitigation of avalanche hazard. Previous studies have had limited success in statistically describing or predicting spatial patterns based on terrain. No previous research has attempted to predict the influence of terrain parameters on spatial variability of weak layers in the complex terrain used in this study.

2:10- 2:45 The Effect of Changing Slope Angle on Extended Column Test Results- Ron Siminhois

Practitioners often assume that weak snowpack layers fracture more easily in steeper terrain. However, recent fracture mechanics research as well as propagation saw testing suggest that increasing slope angle has a small effect on fracture initiation. In this talk we will explore the effect of slope angle on extended column test (ECT) results.

2:45-3:00 Break

3:05-3:25 An Avalanche Accident on the Manti-Skyline- Mark Greenwood, Dustin Butcher, Patrick Grewe

Survivors give a detailed account of an avalanche accident on Horseshoe Mountain.

3:30-3:50 Late Season Close Call on the Pfeifferhorn- Kim Hall/Jewel Lund

A firsthand account describes conditions and group dynamics that lead to a slide for life in the northwest couloir of the Pfeifferhorn.

3:55-4:15 A Selective History of Little Cottonwood Canyon- Jimmy Collinson

A narrative using archived historic photos.

4:20-5:00 The Enemy Within: Human error in avalanche accidents- Ian McCammon

Our understanding of avalanches has changed thru the years, but are we any closer to preventing fatalities?

5:00-6:00 Social at The Blue Goose located in The Depot.

For more information, or to buy tickets in advance, visit the Utah Avalanche Center.

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