Northwest Snow and Avalanche Summit-Awesomeness

Posted on November 15th, 2012 by | 0 Comments

The 5th annual Northwest Snow and Avalanche Summit was held on November 6th, 2012 in Seattle. There were 5 speakers, two of whom traveled from Colorado and Montana to attend and present. There were over 300 attendees that varied from ski patrollers, guides, avalanche educators, interested ski and snowboard tourers, and even a few plain old beer-drinkers who like powder. Sponsors included Backcountry Access, K2, AIARE, AAA, and a host of others. As always, this event would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of Michael Jackson, who has worked tirelessly to keep this event running smoothly. And man do we need it in the Northwest!

The major theme this year was group communication and decision making, hands down. Among avalanche professionals, group communication and decision making are currently being cited as the main causes for most avalanche incidents-and these are interesting points because the research given to these topics is plentiful in many other fields. Before I get to the main topic of this post, I’d like to mention some interesting points from Tom Murphy, legendary founder of the America Institute for Avalanche Research and Education and first person to use the phrase “I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time:”

1. Closed loop: open your communication and thought process circle. If you continually travel in the backcountry without letting new ideas in and opening up communication, you’re going to eventually get smoked. OK, maybe not. But a personal example would be that I ski with the same people year in and year out. We trust each other and we know each other, but are these old habits safe? Food for thought. Maybe I’ll go skiing with some younger people who can offer some new and different perspectives.

2. Adrenaline at the top of a run: feel what happens to your body when you’re pulling off your skins or getting ready to rip a high mark. You’re getting amped up. The communication in the group is now rushed. You want to shred pow. Play with this next time you’re out and just listen to yourself and watch what happens with the group.

So stay safe out there this Winter.