Prepare for winter backcountry safely

avalanche safety workshops, werner peak whitefish range snowcat buried in snow, montana living

Snow safety workshop Nov. 3 in Whitefish

Whitefish — This year’s Northern Rockies Snow and Avalanche Workshop in Whitefish has a panel of experts to enlighten winter sports enthusiasts about safe backcountry travel.
The Northern Rockies Snow and Avalanche Workshop is a one-day winter safety conference dedicated to improving avalanche related decision making skills for winter backcountry professionals and enthusiasts. There will be a variety of speakers, a fantastic raffle, and vendors of avalanche safety gear, winter equipment, and snow machines.

The annual gathering is Nov. 3 from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish, with a limited number of tickets selling for $25 in advance and $30 at the door. The public is encouraged to attend. Participants can register online

This year’s event is highlighted by five presentations covering a variety of avalanche-related topics that will provide insight into the technical and human elements of avalanche safety.

The speaker lineup for this year’s workshop bring a variety of backgrounds with extensive expertise. John Sykes, an MSU graduate student, will present his research findings on the travel habits of lift-access backcountry skiers. Evelyn Lees, a long-time forecaster for the Utah Avalanche Center, will be discussing the alarming trend of solo and uphill travel avalanche fatalities.

Dave Hamre, a veteran in the industry who is the Avalanche Program Director for the Alaska Railway, will be speaking about applying the Avalanche Hazard Index to backcountry travel. Caleb Merrill, a ski guide working in Nevada and the Pacific Northwest, will be discussing the obstacles and positive outcomes behind sharing near-misses to the community.   And last but not least, Dr. Sara Boilen, will explore psychological and economic theories to enrich our understanding as to why we behave predictably irrationally in the backcountry.
“We are really psyched about this year’s event, the momentum for NRSAW keeps growing,” said Zach Guy with the Flathead Avalanche Center. “The workshop is not only a tremendous learning resource, but also a great way to network, mingle with your backcountry peers, and offer up a few hi-fives for the coming winter.  We want to instill that sense of community comradery so that everyone is looking out for each other and sharing their stories or observations. That way we all make safer decisions in the backcountry and come home at the end of the day.” 

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published