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Author Topic: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9  (Read 1762 times)

Admin Al

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Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« on: October 23, 2013, 08:35:45 AM »

Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update- Sign up soon because
November 9th is coming quickly!

If you haven't signed up yet please do soon today.  It will help logistics volunteers greatly in relation to coffee, food, adult hops and barley, etc. 

Only a little more than 3 weeks and ESAW 2013 will be here.  We're once
again excited to say we've got a great day in store.  Our list of talks will
be up on the ESAW website in a few days as some talk titles are still being
tweaked by presenters.  We have a great list of topics from our local
mountains to regional hills to western professional perspectives.  We are
sticking with our goals to offer local issues from the White Mountains,
regional avalanche concerns, a mix of snow science, weather topics relating
to avalanches, and of course human factors that we all need to better
understand.  To keep our avalanche talks vibrant we will continue to bring
in speakers from the west or overseas.

Speakers: This year we are honored to have Doug Richmond from Bridger Bowl
Montana. For over 20 years I have been an enormous advocate of the "RIchmond
Rules".  Basically- one at a time-don't travel over or under partners
without clear permission, and always be thing thinking what you will do when
it all hits the fan.  I paraphrased a bit here, but I believe that they have
kept me safe all these years on Mount Washington and have been the
foundation of my travel ethics in avalanche terrain.  Doug will present
"Human Behavior at the Ski Area Boundary" as well as an overview of
Bridger's Avalanche Program.  I am looking forward to both of them. In
addition,

*   The Gaspe Avalanche Center will be with us again
*   Chief Ranger Ben Woodard and Bob Baribeau from Mahoosuc Rescue will talk about Baxter State Park's
            Avalanche issues on Mt. Katahdin,
*   A talk by one of the worlds premier snow physicists Sam Colebeck on wet snow,
*   Meteorologist Rebecca Scholand will discuss field weather observations in dynamic conditions in relation
           to avalanches
*   Tim Brown from AIARE will help us better understand avalanche problems and the value of
           quality communication.
*   Roger Damon will give us an update on eastern man made snow avalanches at ski areas
*   A round table discussion by renown international climbers in how they avoid avalanches in the big mountain
*   We are also trying to lock in another well know avalanche brain from Colorado via Sweden-
            consider it a welcome surprise if it all comes together.
*   And much more.

Young snow hounds. What really got Kyle and me motivated to get ESAW going a
few years ago was to create a new avalanche venue at a high level in the
Northeast as well as thinking about the next generation of kids and young
adults.  These students will not only be heading into our New England
mountains in future winters, but will be carrying the avalanche torch when
we're gone.  They are the next patrollers, climber and skier professionals,
meteorologists, and avalanche forecasters.  We will have more young snow
enthusiasts this year than ever before at ESAW.  The White Mountain
Avalanche Education Fund is sponsoring a number of students from different
schools in New England including 6 students from a Massachusetts Pioneer
Robotics team focused on a project involving avalanche safety.  Truly our
next avalanche experts and engineers starting early!

Our number of sponsors and vendors wanting to be part of ESAW has been
growing weekly.  It's likely most of the participants will go home with
something this year as we have a large give-away/raffle pile of gear. 

Vendors with Booths

*   American Avalanche Association, American Alpine Club, AIARE, ARVA,
AvaTech, BCA, Barryvox/Mammut, Black Diamond, Hagan Ski, LaSportiva,
Mountain Hardware, Pieps, Ortovox, Petzl

Sponsors

*   American Avalanche Association-The Avalanche Review, American Alpine
Club, AIARE, Atomic, ARVA, AvaTech, Backcountry Access, Backcountry
Magazine, Barryvox/Mammut, Black Diamond Equipment, Brooks-Range
Mountaineering Equipment Company, CAMP, Cascade Designs / MSR, Cloudveil,
CSAC, DPS, Genuine Guide Gear / G3, GU Sports, Hagan Ski USA, High Gear,
Ibex, K2, LaSportiva, Leki, Marker/Volkl, Marmot, Scarpa, Merrell, Mountain
Hardwear, Pieps, Off-Piste Mag, Outdoor Research, Ortovox, Petzl & Adventure
Medical Kits, Plum, Rab, RECCO, Salewa- Dynafit, Silvretta, Pomoca, Salomon
North America, Scarpa, Scott, Sierra Designs, Smart Wool, Smith Optics,
Sterling Ropes, Suunto, Swany, Tecnica, Toko, Voile, Worth Skis

$10 gift card to International Mountain Equipment:  We thought long and hard
about how to encourage those who work and play at a committed level in the
snow to come to ESAW 2013.  We decided to help some of you who are on the
fence that belong to leading groups in Skiing, Climbing and Avalanche
education by offering a $10 International Mountain Equipment gift
certificate.  If you are a current member of one of the groups below you
must bring current information that passes the straight face test!  Not a
patch, sticker etc, but a membership card, a current copy of an
organization's monthly journal with your address on it, etc. We know there
lots of great groups that do fantastic education in the winter outdoors, but
we had to draw the line somewhere for this year so we don't have to tap
Kyle's retirement fund again.  If you feel for 2014 we need to include
others please pull one of the organizers aside this year and make your case.
These are all great organizations so if you don't currently belong to one
think of it as $10 off to join one, get your card and get it back on
November 9th. 

American Alpine Club

National Ski Patrol

Professional Ski Patrollers of America

American Avalanche Association

Canadian Avalanche Association

Mount Washington Observatory

Have current American Mountain Guides Association Certification

Have taken or instructed an Avalanche course with AIARE certification in the
past 24 months

SCHEDULE

*3nd Annual Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop-ESAW2013***

North Conway, New Hampshire 11/09/2013

0730 – 0815   Registration

0815 – 0830   Welcome, Introduction and Housekeeping - Kyle Tyler and Chris Joosen

0830 – 0915   Avoiding Avalanches Through Quality Weather Observations in the Field - Rebecca E. Scholand, Mount Washington Observatory

0915 – 1000   Winter Use in Baxter State Park
   Ben Woodard Chief Ranger, Baxter Maine State Park
   and Bob Baribeau, Mahoosuc Search and Rescue

1000 – 1015   Break -1015 Raffle

1015 – 1100   Human Behavior at the Ski Area Boundary
   Doug Richmond, Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol Director

1100 – 1200   Short Sessions

   Chic-Chocs Avalanche Bulletin: Behind the Scenes

   Julie LeBlanc, Haute Gaspesie Avalanche Center** 15 min

   Update on Eastern Man-Made Snow Avalanches
      Roger Damon, Army Colonel,
      Engineer, NSP Patrol Director, Pilot, Retired 15min

   AvaTech-Changing the Game in Proactive Avalanche Safety

   Brint Markle, AvaTech 30 min

1200 – 1300   Lunch -1300 Raffle

1300 – 1345   The Two Stages of Wet Snow; the Basic Physics and Why We Care
   Sam Colbeck, U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering
      Laboratory (Retired)

1345 – 1430    Uncertainty in Avalanche Decision Making - Dale Atkins, Recco and American Avalanche Association President*

1430 – 1445    Break – 1445 Raffle


1445 – 1530    Using “Avalanche Problem” Descriptors to Communicate Risk
   Tim Brown, American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education

1530 – 1630 Short Sessions

   Meteorological Variability on Mount Washington
   Theoretical and Practical Applications Jeff Lane, USFS Mount Washington AC
   and Cyrena Briedé Mount Washington Observatory 15min

   Recco Avalanche Rescue System - Dale Atkins, Recco and American
   Avalanche Association President 15 min

   Bridger Bowl Avalanche Program and Operations
   Doug Richmond, Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol Director 30min


1630 Closing remarks and move to Social and Avalanche Vendor Booths Upstairs at International Mountain Equipment (IME)
« Last Edit: October 23, 2013, 09:02:03 AM by Admin Al »
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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2013, 09:03:09 AM »

I just signed up for this. If you spend your time out working or playing in the snow, you should seriously consider attending this event.
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Admin Al

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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2013, 09:56:00 AM »

I guess I forgot the link for registration. Sorry, here 'tis...

http://www.esaw.org/
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Al Hospers
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lucky luke

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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2013, 10:19:10 AM »

[...] registration. Sorry, here 'tis...

http://www.esaw.org/

As many person think that I am against avalanche danger scale, I suggest that many of you register to that workshop to be able to have a deep understanding of safety.

Before going to that workshop, I suggest that you read about the topic discuss in the program. Many time, you can read a paper on the topic discuss by the speaker and have pertinent questions.

For example, I google "Avalanche Problem” Descriptors to Communicate Risk"  and I found this: "Avalanche bulletins warn of danger, but only the public themselves can determine their own individual vulnerabilities and exposure, thus being in control of their own risk (Statham, 2008).

That way of thinking bring me to the question how can I be in control of my own risk?

Following a set of rules is certainly not a good way to do it. As they said: "Used in isolation, danger ratings are far too basic
to achieve the precision necessary for conventional avalanche forecasting."

Reading paper before the workshop, cutting the lowest part of snow in a windshield and looking the time that will take for the avalanche to start, climbing on the ridge instead of on the slab (knowing the technique to do so) and asking question at the workshop is lot better than following a set of rules or digging a pit to see the stability of a slab (generally describe in the avalanche forecast). In doubt, don't take risk.

(Note that it is a climber forum, not a stupid no fear tourism forum) 
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perswig

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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2013, 11:15:53 AM »

Yeah, we get it, Luke.

... thus being in control of their own risk (Statham, 2008). 

Is this JASON Statham?
He's totally dreamy!

(Wait, did I say that out loud...?)
Dale

(edit:  I'm going just to catch a glimpse of Bob Baribeau - he's mythical and elusive, like a yeti.  Oh, and for the raffles.)
« Last Edit: October 27, 2013, 11:17:53 AM by perswig »
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DLottmann

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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2013, 02:50:53 PM »

... I suggest that many of you register to that workshop to be able to have a deep understanding of safety.
...

I would hope to see you in attendance.
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Admin Al

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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2013, 01:02:05 PM »

At the workshop today. It's really great and IMNSHO well worth the price of admission!
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DLottmann

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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2013, 02:46:48 PM »

Yup! Best one so far!
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perswig

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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2013, 07:07:46 PM »

Suckers!
Y'all coulda stayed home and learned all you needed to know from the snow on your windshield.  And what was with all the science stuff, inversions, gust probability, blah blah blah ....  Friggin' forecasters just want us to stay home and never experience the majesty of the alpine.

Who was #76 and got the last raffle?  I was off by ONE place, dammit!

Dale

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perswig

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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2013, 07:10:41 PM »

Oh, and Bob Baribeau totally brought the rain of reality to venturing out in the mountains.  He's still like a yeti, but a yeti ... with a machete!

Dale

edit:  call me #77, DMan - I was tucked way in the back left, keeping a low profile. 
My first of these - I enjoyed the mix of perspectives.  Fun to see such an enthusiastic audience.   
« Last Edit: November 09, 2013, 07:33:48 PM by perswig »
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DLottmann

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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2013, 07:25:45 PM »

Ya Bob B's was one of my favorite presentations. I was standing right behind you when they called 75. Now I can kind of put a face to you are.
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DLottmann

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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2013, 04:32:41 PM »

Jonathan Shefftz wrote up a great recap of the workshop and has given me permission to post this draft here. Final attendance numbers still to be verified and there may be some minor tweaks before this is published in the February edition of the Avalanche Review.

Third-Annual Eastern Snow & Avalanche Workshop (“ESAW”)
by Jonathan S. Shefftz

Our third-annual Eastern Snow & Avalanche Workshop was held on November 9 in North Conway NH, near the base of Mount Washington in the Presidentials Range.

This year’s ESAW was once again a collaborative effort of the USFS Mount Washington Avalanche Center – led by Chris Joosen – and AAA Eastern Representative Kyle Tyler.  Strong attendance of 145 filled up the entire gym of our host, the John H. Fuller Elementary School.  The $75 per-attendee registration fee was supplemented with a $500 grant from the American Avalanche Association, and registration fee proceeds over and above the hosting costs went to the youth-oriented White Mountain Avalanche Education Fund.
 
As with similar workshops in other regions, the presentations appealed to the attendee mix of snow professionals and enthusiastic recreationalists. 

We started with Rebecca Scholand, a Mount Washington Observatory meteorologist.  In her 2011 presentation on upslope snow development, she remarked that she didn’t care about snow after it falls on the ground.  But since then, backcountry skiing has drawn her into our avalanche community, and her presentation covered resources and protocols for improving our avalanche-related weather observations.

Next we went on a tour of Maine’s Baxter State Park and its Mount Katahdin with Chief Ranger Ben Woodard, who explored the ramifications of the limited winter road access (a sharp contrast to NH’s Presidentials).  Bob Baribeau, from Mahoosuc Search and Rescue, demonstrated how Katahdin’s “Tableland” snow farm loads up even the technical ice climbing routes and summer hiking trails, so avalanche risk is not exclusive to skiers seeking powder.  And with a limited number of on-site park rangers plus only a weekend and holiday presence of formal rescue groups, combined with long approaches, self-rescue is often the only option (a rarity in the Northeast).  Bob noted that the average visitor now has more technical gear than common sense.   Although sees more avalanche rescue gear among climbers, he also sees parties cutting down on time devoted to information gathering (tying in nicely with the prior presentation on the importance of weather observations).

Doug Richmond, sporting a “Big Green” cap from his nearby alma mater Dartmouth College, assessed human behavior at the ski area boundary, informed by his many years as the Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol Director.  Back in the 1970s, a federal ordinance legally sealed off the ski area boundary.  The legal status has since changed, as has interest in out-of-bounds skiing and the prevalence of ski touring gear.  Doug’s “favorite” incident included a helmet cam video of a skier whose partner is avalanched, then takes out his beacon and … reviews the back of the housing for the instructions on how to conduct a search.   

A series of short sessions started with Julie LeBlanc, who updated us on her presentation from last year on the avalanche forecast center in Quebec’s Haute-Gaspesie (aka Chic Chocs), the only avalanche forecast center east of the Rockies other than our own Mount Washington.  (And once again, her Quebecois accent contrasted nicely with a bunch of American male presenters!)

Roger Damon, who has been teaching National Ski Patrol avalanche safety courses at Mount Washington since the mid-1960s, presented an update of his earlier ISSW paper on eastern ski resort avalanches.  Our ski resorts’ natural snowfall and typically scouring winds, further combined with high skier density, almost never allow for natural snow avalanches.  Yet our snowmaking prowess can also make … avalanches.  A December 2002 avalanche at 750-foot Holiday Valley (near Buffalo NY) left a 2.1-meter crown, representing a crown face almost exactly one percent of the entire resort vertical drop – perhaps setting some sort of record?  And preparations for the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics were evocative of a Monty Python scene:
“Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show ’em. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp.”
For the downhill race course, Whiteface Mountain blew onto bare ground a massive amount of snow.  It avalanched into the woods, leaving bare ground.  So Whiteface below onto the bare ground a second massive amount of snow.  It avalanched into the woods, leaving bare ground.  Fortunately the third try was not another strike!

Last year, Eric Lutz, a PhD snow scientist with the Dartmouth College Glaciology Group, had explained the art and science of snow penotrometry, taking us from the Ramsonde in the 1930s to the SnowMicroPen in the 1990.  This year, Brint Markle, with his fellow MIT whizzes at their AvaTech Safety start-up, took us into the next era.  As presented the prior month at CSAW, imagine if you could stick a sectional probe into the snow to immediately transmit a complete hardness profile to your phone, which would then be uploaded to a crowd-sourced geospatial map.  And imagine if you could do that … pretty much right now.  (Wow!)  Extensive field testing will be conducted this year by many snow science professionals – stayed tuned for further updates.

After lunch was scheduled to be Sam Colbeck, retired from the U.S. Army’s Cold Region Research and Engineering Laboratory after three decades of groundbreaking cold lab research in snow crystal bonding.  The prior two years, Sam had explained (to the extent we could understand it!) some technical snow physics, and this year was planning to explain wet snow physics, but unfortunately had to cancel because of a flu-like illness.  (Best wishes for a speedy recovery!)

Instead we skipped to Dale Atkins, past President of the American Avalanche Association.  Dale focused on the concept of risk, and introduced us to VUCA:  volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.  Our goal should be not to minimize risk but rather to minimize uncertainty.  He closed on the thought that when faced with uncertainty, don’t rely on decisions that require predictions.

Another series of short sessions started with Dale Atkins again, this time on avalanche rescue.  Dale is RECCO’s Training and Education Manager, but his presentation encompassed all the types, phases, and equipment involved in rescue.  His closing thought was that rescue gear puts you in a place to be lucky – but you don’t ever want to rely on luck!

Next was Jeff Lane, one of our snow rangers, who introduced us to meteorological variability on Mount Washington (and also announced a new free continuing education series scheduled for the second Saturday of every month).  Cyrena Briedé, director of summit operations for the Mount Washington Observatory, assessed how well the summit above-treeline 24/7 observations correlate with conditions for the avalanche forecast areas down in the at-treeline glacial cirques. 

Tim Brown, an instructor trainer for the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, had flown out to teach an instructor refresher course the following day.  He explained the evolution and current usage of “avalanche problem” descriptors to communicate risk.  With our local “arctic maritime” avalanche climate, wind slab is almost always our primary or even exclusive concern.  But we eastern skiers see more varied avalanche conditions than anyone else, since we’re ones always flying out to various western regions in search of better snow and bigger mountains.  Therefore, Tim’s presentation was especially important for us when suddenly exposed to the avalanche bulletin format of different forecast centers.

Finally, up again was Doug Richmond to explain Bridger Bowl’s avalanche program and operations.  Despite those previously discussed snowmaking avalanches, and also Whiteface Mountain’s lift-served access to avalanche-prone landslide paths, eastern ski resorts are pretty much immune from avalanche danger.  Therefore, Doug provided a glimpse into a world that we do not experience locally.

Interspersed throughout were raffles of prizes donated by our sponsors, including American Alpine Club, American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, ARVA, Backcountry Access, Black Diamond / Pieps, DPS Skis, Dynafit, Leki, Mammut, Mountain Hardwear, Off-Piste Mag, Petzl, Ortovox, Skimo.co, Sterling Rope, Toko, and Voile.

ESAW finally adjourned down the street to our second host International Mountain Equipment for socializing plus vendor displays from AIARE, AvaTech Safety, BCA, BD/Pieps, La Sportiva, Mammut, Ortovox, Petzl, RECCO, and Sterling.

The following morning, the AIARE instructor training happened to be held at the 2011 ESAW venue:  we marveled at how we were ever able to squeeze into there only two years!  And indeed we are now outgrowing our 2012 and 2013 venue, so plan to join us for the fourth-annual ESAW at the even larger “Theater in the Woods” in neighboring Intervale NH November 8, 2014.

Jonathan Shefftz lives with his wife and mondopoint-size 16 daughter (still too small for “Tech”-compatible ski touring boots) in Western Massachusetts, where he patrols at Northfield Mountain and Mount Greylock. He is an AIARE-qualified instructor, NSP avalanche instructor, and AAA governing board member. When he is not searching out elusive freshies in Southern New England, he works as a financial economics consultant and has been qualified as an expert witness in state and federal courts. He can be reached at jshefftz@post.harvard.edu or just look for the lycra-clad skinner training for his NE Rando Race Series.
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Admin Al

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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2013, 05:47:44 PM »

ThnX for posting the summary. What a great workshop. I enjoyed all the presentations. I think it was well worth the time and $$.
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Al Hospers
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DLottmann

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Re: Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop Update - November 9
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2013, 10:53:50 AM »

Some photos on my blog post here:

http://davidlottmann.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/eastern-snow-avalanche-workshop/

This one in particular is quite relevant to us:



Kinds hard to read, sorry... Basically 88% of avalanche accidents in NH involve climbers, opposed to Colorado where it is 44% skiers, 10% climbers.

Of course there are many more back-country skiers spending time in avalanche terrain in CO, but since we have so many ice climbers in NH spending time in avy terrain it would be wise for us to all become a bit more "snow savvy".

« Last Edit: November 11, 2013, 11:08:00 AM by DMan »
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