November 1st – 2014 Utah Snow & Avalanche Workshop Public Session

| October 27, 2014

Avalanche education is one of the best ways to avoid being caught and/or buried by an avalanche while backcountry skiing, or, as the Utah Avalanche Center says “Know Before You Go.”  To that end, the UAC is hosting a very concentrated avalanche workshop this Saturday, November 1st at the Southtowne Expo Center in Sandy, Utah.  The morning session is open to snow safety professionals only, but the afternoon session (which looks as good or better) is open to the public. It is a fast moving format with lots of short 15-20 minute presentations, which keep it fresh and interesting.  Plus, it tends to be very localized with presentations on the Wasatch, Uintas and Tetons.

I am especially interested in hearing Drew Hardesty’s presentation ” How the Freedom of the Hills has Become Anarchy in the Backcountry- A look at the Past, Present and Future of Freeriding in the backcountry.”   This presentation references the growing issue of backcountry popularity in places like the Central Wasatch Mountains or the Taylor Mountain incident a few years ago.  Although I am going to miss this event, I’m sure this will be a topic which is brought up more and more in the future – who is responsible for who, or what in the backcountry?  Should there be rules or laws?  What happens when a resort opens a backcountry gate and disgorges 50 people on top of a group touring up from below?  Should public lands be closed to the public for the public’s own good?  Who makes that decision?  Skiing down on top of people is generally considered bad form, but do those below have any responsibility?  What happens in a crowded area when you stomp a cornice and the entire drainage you are in rips out wall-to-wall?   All of this and more are growing issues with urban avalanche avoidance.


The afternoon public session runs from 1:00pm until 5:30 and then finishes off with a social hour.  The cost is $44 and more information/registration can be found here:

2014 Utah Snow & Avalanche Workshop Public Session

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Category: Announcements, Avalanche

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber and Mountain Unicycle rider. He and Polly Samuels McLean are the parents of two very loud little girls.

Comments (3)

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  1. Charlie says:

    Mountains are big, and gravity makes it possible for us to affect the environment at great distances from ourselves. Few mountain activities are designed with crowding in mind. Furthermore, many of us are drawn to the mountains in part because the only rules are those fundamental to nature. We come to the mountains from many different paths, for different durations, and for many different reasons. It’s hard to imagine any simple system that can coordinate so many disparate parties.

    As an individual, it would seem that a good approach is to regard uncoordinated parties as objective hazard, just as one does in summer with rockfall. The only major difference is that ski-cutting is a standard avalanche risk-mitigation technique, whereas trundling is regarded as something to be done with great care, if ever. Empathy for those below can inspire better choices from those above.

    The Wasatch has one of the highest user densities in the hemisphere, making things come to a head there more quickly than elsewhere. In Washington, the same concerns have emerged, but not with the same magnitude. We’re watching from afar, hoping to learn from both successes and mistakes as Utah confronts the problem.

    I don’t think there will be any easy answers, but heartily concur that these concerns will be with us for decades to come.

  2. Well said Charlie. Thanks.

  3. eric says:

    Hey Andrew, it’s Eric Deyoung. I’m living in the hills south of cle elum. If your in the area I would like to see you.

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