Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 35
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    727

    What's missing from online avy safety videos

    Been browsing the internet, watching avvy safety videos, trying to refresh what I learned in my classes over the years.

    There are a ton of videos teaching you how to dig pits, perform various tests, how to record your observations, etc.

    What's pretty scarce is information on interpretation and decision making.

    I would love to see one of the respected avalanche organizations put out a whole series of videos just of them digging some pits, making assessments, and then (this is the important part) making a decision whether or not they will ski the slope in question, (and explaining their go /no-go rationale.)

    If there were a bunch of these go / no-go videos available, covering various years and various conditions, that would be super useful.

    99% of the educational videos show you how to dig pits and study the snowpack, but they never get to the most important part; would they ski it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Listening to Hunky Dory in the rain.
    Posts
    7,535
    That's because you shouldn't be making the decision to ski something or not based solely on what you find in a pit.
    I remember a bottomless freedom...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    inpdx
    Posts
    14,603

    What's missing from online avy safety videos

    Quote Originally Posted by glademaster View Post
    That's because you shouldn't be making the decision to ski something or not based solely on what you find in a pit.
    I believe thatís his point: new vids to illustrate how those decisions should be made

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Listening to Hunky Dory in the rain.
    Posts
    7,535
    I would argue that information is impossible to encapsulate in a video that will hold someone's 90-second attention span.

    You know what would be even better than a video doing a half-baked job of conveying that information? Reading it in a book!
    I remember a bottomless freedom...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    6,641
    I don't disagree with ya Kai, but here are a few comments from someone with 25+ years experience ski touring in a continental snowpack. There has been an increasing desire by backcountry users to have the magic key to be able to green light/red light a particular slope. Here in Colorado we travel under yellow light conditions a majority of the time.

    While the ultimate decision to go/no go is binary, the process by which you get there is anything but. The longer I do this shit, the more I realize that a large percentage of backcountry skiers do not have the patience and awareness to "ski the day" and understand all the subtleties and dynamics needed to be consistently safe. Said another way, the exact information you seek is the exact information we don't need. This is the challenge.

    Another point to be made is that avalanche problems that exhibit high spatial variability can not, by definition, be green lighted by a stability test. If you don't understand that, you are personally at high risk. Most areas in the mountain west have great Avalanche Centers that are doing the forecasting for you. Heck, there just about spell out exactly how to stay safe.

    We are the problem. I challenge you to think about what are the impediments to you making consistently conservative decisions because that is what it takes to be a safe, incident free, backcountry tourer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Listening to Hunky Dory in the rain.
    Posts
    7,535
    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    I don't disagree with ya Kai, but here are a few comments from someone with 25+ years experience ski touring in a continental snowpack. There has been an increasing desire by backcountry users to have the magic key to be able to green light/red light a particular slope. Here in Colorado we travel under yellow light conditions a majority of the time.

    While the ultimate decision to go/no go is binary, the process by which you get there is anything but. The longer I do this shit, the more I realize that a large percentage of backcountry skiers do not have the patience and awareness to "ski the day" and understand all the subtleties and dynamics needed to be consistently safe. Said another way, the exact information you seek is the exact information we don't need. This is the challenge.

    Another point to be made is that avalanche problems that exhibit high spatial variability can not, by definition, be green lighted by a stability test. If you don't understand that, you are personally at high risk. Most areas in the mountain west have great Avalanche Centers that are doing the forecasting for you. Heck, there just about spell out exactly how to stay safe.

    We are the problem. I challenge you to think about what are the impediments to you making consistently conservative decisions because that is what it takes to be a safe, incident free, backcountry tourer.
    Well said.
    I remember a bottomless freedom...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    inpdx
    Posts
    14,603
    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    While the ultimate decision to go/no go is binary, the process by which you get there is anything but. The longer I do this shit, the more I realize that a large percentage of backcountry skiers do not have the patience and awareness to "ski the day" and understand all the subtleties and dynamics needed to be consistently safe.
    if we as a ski culture cannot figure out how to share wisdom and teach, we really are fucked

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    15,804
    And it is possible that all 3 of you are correct to varying degrees.

    FG, well put!
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    United States of Aburdistan
    Posts
    7,341
    I think it's a great idea for a series. Just have the forecasters explain the whole picture of what the see and find that day, not just results from a pit. Maybe have a less experienced person with him/her and we hear their guesses which is confirmed/denied by the pro.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    15,804
    That or go back several year, scrub any embarrassing or identifying information and examine past avalanche accidents. A sort of an online Snowy Torrents that focuses on the decisions made and the red/yellow/green signs present and either identified or ignored/missed.
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Not Brooklyn
    Posts
    7,203
    Whenever there is a notable avy accident (or a series of them) people start asking questions about how to better convey messages that don't seem to be getting through to certain skiers. This is certainly a noble goal but there are two things that need to be kept in mind:

    1) All the relevant information is already out there.
    2) Forecasters have almost certainly already thought about messaging more than the rest of us.

    Bruce Tremper on Persistant-Slabs: "The only way to deal with them is by avoiding or making very conservative terrain choices."

    on Deep Persistent Slabs: "Just don't mess with them, usually for the rest of the season."

    That's some pretty clear messaging.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    6,641
    I think it's a great idea for a series. Just have the forecasters explain the whole picture of what the see and find that day, not just results from a pit. Maybe have a less experienced person with him/her and we hear their guesses which is confirmed/denied by the pro.
    At least for the CAIC, that is more or less the purpose of both the daily (usually) discussion and the YouTubes.

    Avalanche activity continues to taper off without new snow to load the snowpack. Ski areas continue to trigger large avalanches with explosives, but it's been several days since a confirmed human-triggered avalanche across the Northern Mountains. The snowpack, however, is still grumbling and observers are reporting cracking and collapsing.

    We know that the poor structure is present and steep northerly and easterly-facing aspects are the most suspect areas, especially where there is previous wind loading. The dry, cool weather isn’t changing things quickly. The midpack slabs continue to decay as the surface snow facets during the long dry spell, with cold clear nights. At lower elevations the slab is gone in many places and you'll find just weak, cohesionless snow from top to bottom, and you might be able to trigger small facet sluffs in steep terrain.

    Each time we experience a small loading event, whether it’s new snow or wind, or any combination, expect an uptick of avalanche activity on the same slopes. We might get enough snow tonight and into tomorrow to increase avalanche activity, especially in the Steamboat Flat Tops zone, and the northern Gore Range.

    It’s important not to mistake a lack of reported avalanche activity as a sign of stable slopes. In a season like this, persistent dry weather means that the snowpack is slow to change. Northerly and easterly-facing slopes will remain dangerous for a while. Assume that these slopes are unstable even when the snowpack does not present obvious signs of instability like collapsing and recent avalanches. Give yourself a wide margin of safety in your terrain choices until conditions improve.




    I place no blame on traditional avalanche education, in fact we may be where we are because of how good those curricula are. That said, we talk about FACETS and heuristic traps and all that but we collectively do a shitty job a being reflective as a community and providing the feedback loop needed to be a safe community.

    Personally, I feel that the culture of safety made huge improvements from say 1995-2015. Then popular and social media happened and we collectively lost the ability to be consistently awesome. Tracks and the scarcity of powder drives people to ski increasingly risky terrain and snowpack while social media how both provided the motivation for "getting after it" and echo chamber of dog shit takes on safety.

    It sucks. I've been forced to manage myself though reduced expectations, riding chairlifts, snowmobility to more remote areas and simply not going ski touring.

    I think you are looking for the answer that doesn't exist. The best you are gonna get out of a forecast or guide or educator is what they would do in a given situation with variable that will never be replicated. The beauty of ski touring is that it is wild and unpredictable. It can not be simplified into a laboratory experiment.

    This a challenge. Do you have and knowledge gap? A skills gap? What is preventing you from making consistently conservative decisions?

    Learning how to reprogram our minds is the biggest challenge. We all come with so much baggage from regular life that we can't get out of our own heads and think clearly.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Salida, CO
    Posts
    1,378
    I think the field videos from the avy centers do a good job extrapolating snow study to weather, slope aspect angles and risk. They also do a great job examining the cognitive-behavioral defects in individuals involved in avy accidents.
    Name:  dharry.jpg
Views: 2837
Size:  8.3 KB
    The question is, "Do you feel lucky? Punk!"

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    inpdx
    Posts
    14,603
    I could envision a “dramatic reading” of Tremper’s book in the style of Planet Earth

    macro shots of crystals debonding with the micro sounds to match

    360 time lapse of loading in progress from crystals zoomed out to the view from 10k’

    Trigger closeup zooming out to the resulting release & slide ending in a zoom back in to the compaction at the bottom

    The book is good but I expect it could be improved on with pertinent visual story telling, maybe even with his ok following his chapter structure

    [ultimately won’t completely satisfy a “complete” education, but could be improved]

    just my imagination

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    west tetons
    Posts
    1,558
    Lots of great insight so far, thanks all. behind the scenes at TAR and in the avalanche education business we laugh at how the Rec 2 crowd wants to learn science in order to justify skiing things. Ha!

    I'd urge the OP to subscribe to a few choice IG feeds like the American Avalanche Institute and the Sawtooth Avalanche Center, especially the short vids from Sawtooth forecaster Ben VandenBos. In-depth insight about translating theory/ data into appropriate action.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    United States of Aburdistan
    Posts
    7,341
    Different people learn differently. It's good to have different options out there rather than suggest people should simply find the info already out there and 'stay the course' for avie awareness. Certainly there is great resources out there already, and a video like Kai isn't the silver bullet missing that will solve everything, but if it helps a certain few, then why not, if there is funds out there to support a video like that.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    15,804
    Or you could shove a Horseshoe up the old blowhole.
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    727
    Sorry if I was not clear.

    I did not mean to imply that a decision to ski or not ski a slope should be based solely on examination of a snow pit. I understand that many other factors go into that decision. (slope angle, terrain, avalanche poodle tests, etc.)

    What I am looking for is a go / no-go decision with an explanation of the rationale behind the decision, (which could/should include many factors other than what is seen in the snow pit.)

    The problem is that there is a ton of information out there on the more esoteric aspects of snow science. There is almost none with real life examples regarding how to make the binary decision of "do I ski that?"


    Here's an extreme example:

    A guy doing an extended column test. It fails and propagates after 7 taps.

    With a test result such as this, I'm pretty sure most everyone would agree that, absent some over-riding mitigating circumstances (very low slope angle, perhaps) nobody should ski this.

    And yet, nowhere does the guy say, "DON'T SKI THIS."

    This is an extreme example. Maybe they figure that anyone with half a brain could know not to ski something that reacts this way. But there are many other less extreme examples where it's not so obvious.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHE0...ature=emb_logo

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    United States of Aburdistan
    Posts
    7,341
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunion 2020 View Post
    Or you could shove a Horseshoe up the old blowhole.
    I don't want to see an instructional video on how to do that.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Montreal, Canada
    Posts
    1,435
    Quote Originally Posted by Kai View Post
    Sorry if I was not clear.

    I did not mean to imply that a decision to ski or not ski a slope should be based solely on examination of a snow pit. I understand that many other factors go into that decision. (slope angle, terrain, avalanche poodle tests, etc.)

    What I am looking for is a go / no-go decision with an explanation of the rationale behind the decision, (which could/should include many factors other than what is seen in the snow pit.)

    The problem is that there is a ton of information out there on the more esoteric aspects of snow science. There is almost none with real life examples regarding how to make the binary decision of "do I ski that?"


    Here's an extreme example:

    A guy doing an extended column test. It fails and propagates after 7 taps.

    With a test result such as this, I'm pretty sure most everyone would agree that, absent some over-riding mitigating circumstances (very low slope angle, perhaps) nobody should ski this.

    And yet, nowhere does the guy say, "DON'T SKI THIS."

    This is an extreme example. Maybe they figure that anyone with half a brain could know not to ski something that reacts this way. But there are many other less extreme examples where it's not so obvious.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHE0...ature=emb_logo
    I think your question has to do more with people's level or risk tolerance. What may be a 'go' for one person would be a 'no-go' for another person because the risks people are willing to take differ on an individual basis. I feel like what your looking for has more to do with human behavior and risk tolerance than snow science.

    Adding that FGs comments are really well stated. Thanks for that.
    24į 06į

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    15,804
    ^^^ yours was not so bad either.

    To the OP, I appreciate your thought but making the ski or not decision binary will probably never happen and you demonstrate why that is the case very well in your example.

    Skiing avalanche terrain when the snow is still dynamic is always going to contain more than a little risk and hold a lot of grey area.
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    727
    Quote Originally Posted by danmelon View Post
    I think your question has to do more with people's level or risk tolerance. What may be a 'go' for one person would be a 'no-go' for another person because the risks people are willing to take differ on an individual basis. I feel like what your looking for has more to do with human behavior and risk tolerance than snow science.
    You're absolutely right in that what I am asking for goes beyond snow science. However I'm honestly not interested in the pure science aspects of avalanches. I'm interested in practical application of that science. The usefulness of any of the snow science ultimately comes down to how it impacts the decision of whether or not you would ski a particular slope. In any endeavor that involves risk, there is a lot to be learned by watching experienced people and how they manage that risk. It's the conjunction of the science and the behavior that has practical application to the decision of whether or not to ski something.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunion 2020 View Post
    To the OP, I appreciate your thought but making the ski or not decision binary will probably never happen and you demonstrate why that is the case very well in your example.

    Skiing avalanche terrain when the snow is still dynamic is always going to contain more than a little risk and hold a lot of grey area.
    The decision to ski or not ski is a binary decision. You either ski it or you don't. There are rarely any third options. Obviously, the factors that go into making this binary decision include multiple variables (the grey area you speak of.)

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    SLC
    Posts
    65
    It just seems outside the mission of avy centers to go into the reward part of the equation. Documenting the decision making process and review of exposed or challenging descents is more often addressed by professional athletes and guides as part of content development. The Fifty comes to mind.

    The UAC generates reviews of prior year incidents and spends a lot of time on decision making during their annual snow and avalanche workshop. I recommend Logan Cookler's talk from day 3 about how Powderbirds goes about getting the goods and keeping clients safe. Day 2 reviews incidents, and Day 1 has more meterological content including a recap of last year's historic storm cycle in LCC.

    $10/day for a bunch of good presentations and it raises a little money. Totally worth it this far into a season when it might as well be November.
    https://store.utahavalanchecenter.or...tions/events-1
    Last edited by JKnight; 01-13-2021 at 04:21 PM. Reason: correct details

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    6,641
    Kai, I honestly commend you for trying to dig a little deeper into decision make. One thing that I think you are missing is what the role of an avalanche center is. They absolutely positively do not tell you where and when it is safe to ski. The best you will get is a suggestion about recommended travel protocols. Do you want the backcountry to be open and closed by the avalanche centers or do you want to be able to decide for yourself?

    Here is a quick list of factors that may effect my tour planning and whether I ski or don't ski something:

    Group (who, size, currency)
    Time (later in day?)
    Weather (freezing cold, visibility)
    Vibe (group awareness, hungry, tired, agenda)

    And back you the YouTube example, here are the forecast and discussion from that zone on that day:

    A few inches of new snow yesterday with moderate winds and strong gusts at times added load primarily to northeast slopes. While it wasn’t quite enough to increase the avalanche danger rating, there are now more spots where you can trigger dangerous avalanches. Expect avalanches to break larger and wider where you find wind-affected snow. Conditions remain sensitive enough that you can trigger an avalanche big enough to bury and kill you, even in areas without obvious signs of instability on the surface. Near treeline, on north, northeast, east, and southeast-facing slopes are the most suspect. Consider avoiding any slope on these aspects over 30 degrees, especially where you find wind drifted snow.

    High variability and unpredictability pretty much sum up the name of the game. Avalanche sensitivity varies throughout the zones based on slab thickness. In areas where the slab is thickest, three feet or more, avalanches are more stubborn to trigger. In areas where the slab is slightly thinner, around one to two feet thick, the slab remains reactive to your body weight. In other areas, the snow has remained unconsolidated and lacks enough slab stiffness to avalanche.

    The unpredictable nature of Persistent Slab Avalanches makes recreating safely tricky. Obvious signs of instability can become less frequent or go away completely. Avalanche activity slows and if you are not careful, it is easy to start stepping out and get caught. Our best strategy is to avoid avalanche terrain where the structure exists. This takes discipline and vigilance as this structure is not going away anytime soon. It will be something we continue to talk about for the foreseeable future.

    Expect surprises. Manage your terrain choices to accommodate that uncertainty and the potential of larger, well-connected slabs breaking wider than expected. Choose lower angled slopes. Give steep, overhead slopes a wide berth, and be diligent in your procedures while traveling through the mountains.
    Weak snow structure exists on most slopes. Slopes that face north, northeast, and east are the most dangerous. Yesterday’s snowfall and moderate to strong winds continued to move snow onto easterly-facing slopes. Avoid any terrain over 35 degrees where you find wind-drifted snow, see shooting cracks, or hear sounds of collapse in the snow around you. You can trigger avalanches from a distance in low-angle terrain, beneath or adjacent to larger slopes, so be aware of what is around you. Below treeline, steer clear of steep-walled gullies and small slopes where even a small avalanche could bury you in a terrain trap.
    The rating was Moderate. You tell me what additional information you would have needed to make safe terrain choice decisions on that day.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Wenatchee
    Posts
    8,712
    For me itís pretty simple. Read the forecast and observations, recall my own observations of snowpack and weather for the area I ski regularly. Choose terrain appropriate for those conditions. Identify and acknowledge the consequences of your choice. Stay disciplined, donít push into more consequential terrain if you arenít willing to accept the outcome.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •