Forum Index > Trail Talk > Avalanche accidents/ persistent weak layers/human factors
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
DIYSteve
mere tourist



Joined: 06 Mar 2007
Posts: 11670 | TRs
Location: here now
DIYSteve
mere tourist
PostWed Jan 11, 2017 10:19 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I'm not quite getting your point. IME the typical experienced ski tourist with basic knowledge of avy theory (e.g., AIARE I or higher) have indeed dug hundreds of pits, encountered slides (e.g., slides of windloaded slabs atop facets and spring hissers) and made lots of slope cuts. The knowledge from those experiences add up. OTOH, I suppose some perceive the acquisition of an AIARE I cert as a false sense of security and don't bother to dig pits or, if they do, do so hastily without doing a meaningful analysis, but I think those are a small minority. It's a continuum. Where you drawn the line on that continuum to determine "most" is subjective.

Getting back to cartman's claims, as I said above, nearly all of my acquaintances who have died in avys or been in parties where fellow party member has died in any avy were indeed experienced with avy assessment, having dug and analyzed hundreds of pits and Rutschblock block tests. For example, I was friends with all 5 in the party in which my 3 friends died in 2003. All of them were Mountaineers ski touring instructors and each of them had hundreds of hours of avy assessment experience. I believe that all 5 had AIARE II certs or equivalent.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
gb
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 4283 | TRs

gb
Member
PostWed Jan 11, 2017 10:51 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
spamfoote wrote:
gb wrote:
I've always thought of route finding as being in three stages:

1) Developing an initial set of expectations based on prior knowledge, recent meteorology (longer term with persistent weaknesses), telemetry and perhaps webcams, and weather and avalanche forecasts. The key is not only to choose a safe and hopefully good destination but also to develop a set of initial questions which one attempts to test. The testing is not limited to snowpack tests but focuses around observations of feel and vision.

2) The choice of destination and route in the field through discussion and observation once at the intended TH. The set of questions is further buttressed and/or modified.

3) Assuming that the tests (including further observations) continue to support the route to the destination, one then makes micro-scale adjustments to the route depending on both travel and stability clues as observed. On occasion these adjustments may be just a few yards.

Rigidity leads to poor choices, decreases the potential quality of the experience and increases risk. The goal in avalanche terrain should always be to form a set of questions to test and then to make the best effort to maintain objectivity in making observations and then to modify the set of questions as one travels to and through avalanche terrain.

You just described a rigid thought structure.  Rigid decision tree logic(thought structure) has nothing to do with rigid route planning.  One subject is NOT the other.

Horse pucky. You are labeling as rigid the process of asking questions, making observations, adjusting those questions, and making an effort to remain objective. The opposite of rigidity.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
gb
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 4283 | TRs

gb
Member
PostWed Jan 11, 2017 10:57 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
hikersarenumber1 wrote:
I had a conversation with someone whose name will not be mentioned after he triggered an injury causing avalanche about group dynamics.  I said that if anyone in a group was not comfortable with a route/slope for any reason that the group must not proceed until everyone is OK with the plan or turn back... the group operates as a reverse democracy and there mustn't be negative consequences for speaking up, other than the obvious compatibility or lack thereof for future trips...

This is paramount for two reasons; first that the one with concern might be right, and second that it is not right to infringe upon the concerns of an individual - to put them at a higher perceived risk than they are comfortable with.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
DIYSteve
mere tourist



Joined: 06 Mar 2007
Posts: 11670 | TRs
Location: here now
DIYSteve
mere tourist
PostWed Jan 11, 2017 11:25 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
spamfoote wrote:
You just described a rigid thought structure.

Nah. What gb describes is manifestly flexible.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
hikersarenumber1
Member
Member


Joined: 21 Apr 2015
Posts: 466 | TRs

hikersarenumber1
Member
PostWed Jan 11, 2017 11:36 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
DIYSteve wrote:
I'm not quite getting your point. IME the typical experienced ski tourist with basic knowledge of avy theory (e.g., AIARE I or higher) have indeed dug hundreds of pits, encountered slides (e.g., slides of windloaded slabs atop facets and spring hissers) and made lots of slope cuts. The knowledge from those experiences add up. OTOH, I suppose some perceive the acquisition of an AIARE I cert as a false sense of security and don't bother to dig pits or, if they do, do so hastily without doing a meaningful analysis, but I think those are a small minority. It's a continuum. Where you drawn the line on that continuum to determine "most" is subjective.

Getting back to cartman's claims, as I said above, nearly all of my acquaintances who have died in avys or been in parties where fellow party member has died in any avy were indeed experienced with avy assessment, having dug and analyzed hundreds of pits and Rutschblock block tests. For example, I was friends with all 5 in the party in which my 3 friends died in 2003. All of them were Mountaineers ski touring instructors and each of them had hundreds of hours of avy assessment experience. I believe that all 5 had AIARE II certs or equivalent.


Exactly.  It is pretty rare that there is an avalanche incident that signs of instability weren't "ignored" or, the signs were there and the party had the skills and experience and should have recognized them.

Or, are these groups looking for signs of stability rather than signs of instability...?  You generally can find what you are looking for...
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
RumiDude
Marmota olympus



Joined: 26 Jul 2009
Posts: 2156 | TRs
Location: Port Angeles
RumiDude
Marmota olympus
PostWed Jan 11, 2017 5:16 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
hikersarenumber1 wrote:
We can go around and around about it, thinking we are safer, we are aware of and somehow immune to all these heuristic traps... but when you read about the people who die, more often  than not they are just like us.

Exactly! Daniel Kahneman, a psychology and behavioral economics Nobel winner, wrote a book Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow which describes how this happens. Dan Ariely, another behavioral economist, has written a several books about the subject as well, the best know is Predictably Irrational. Everyone thinks that they are immune to the heuristics and makes rational decisions, but we fool ourselves many times. It takes a lot of discipline to overcome this natural tendency.

Rumi

--------------
Valhalla Outdoors
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
spamfoote
Member
Member


Joined: 26 Oct 2014
Posts: 867 | TRs

spamfoote
Member
PostWed Jan 11, 2017 10:29 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
gb wrote:
spamfoote wrote:
gb wrote:
I've always thought of route finding as being in three stages:

1) Developing an initial set of expectations based on prior knowledge, recent meteorology (longer term with persistent weaknesses), telemetry and perhaps webcams, and weather and avalanche forecasts. The key is not only to choose a safe and hopefully good destination but also to develop a set of initial questions which one attempts to test. The testing is not limited to snowpack tests but focuses around observations of feel and vision.

2) The choice of destination and route in the field through discussion and observation once at the intended TH. The set of questions is further buttressed and/or modified.

3) Assuming that the tests (including further observations) continue to support the route to the destination, one then makes micro-scale adjustments to the route depending on both travel and stability clues as observed. On occasion these adjustments may be just a few yards.

Rigidity leads to poor choices, decreases the potential quality of the experience and increases risk. The goal in avalanche terrain should always be to form a set of questions to test and then to make the best effort to maintain objectivity in making observations and then to modify the set of questions as one travels to and through avalanche terrain.

You just described a rigid thought structure.  Rigid decision tree logic(thought structure) has nothing to do with rigid route planning.  One subject is NOT the other.

Horse pucky. You are labeling as rigid the process of asking questions, making observations, adjusting those questions, and making an effort to remain objective. The opposite of rigidity.

Ah yes, black and white world where you live?...

Those decisions are based on a decision tree... End of story.  Observations are like sun, wind, and water to said tree.   If you don't have one, well, glad I am not going snowshoeing or ice climbing with you.  Before I go I and my partners decide which branches of the decision tree to prune based on NWAC and my previous experience along with snow pits. 

Has this stopped me from being stupid and being surrounded by avalanches popping off everywhere around me?  Of course not.  Why?  I failed using my decision tree after initial  evaluation of conditions. After this happened I went with a rigid tree using time based reevaluation periods that always must take place.  Never been in that situation again and it keeps myself mentally aware.  Still been in very high avy situations, but I stopped in a safe place and camped instead.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
gb
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 4283 | TRs

gb
Member
PostFri Jan 13, 2017 9:54 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
spamfoote wrote:
gb wrote:
spamfoote wrote:
gb wrote:
I've always thought of route finding as being in three stages:

1) Developing an initial set of expectations based on prior knowledge, recent meteorology (longer term with persistent weaknesses), telemetry and perhaps webcams, and weather and avalanche forecasts. The key is not only to choose a safe and hopefully good destination but also to develop a set of initial questions which one attempts to test. The testing is not limited to snowpack tests but focuses around observations of feel and vision.

2) The choice of destination and route in the field through discussion and observation once at the intended TH. The set of questions is further buttressed and/or modified.

3) Assuming that the tests (including further observations) continue to support the route to the destination, one then makes micro-scale adjustments to the route depending on both travel and stability clues as observed. On occasion these adjustments may be just a few yards.

Rigidity leads to poor choices, decreases the potential quality of the experience and increases risk. The goal in avalanche terrain should always be to form a set of questions to test and then to make the best effort to maintain objectivity in making observations and then to modify the set of questions as one travels to and through avalanche terrain.

You just described a rigid thought structure.  Rigid decision tree logic(thought structure) has nothing to do with rigid route planning.  One subject is NOT the other.

Horse pucky. You are labeling as rigid the process of asking questions, making observations, adjusting those questions, and making an effort to remain objective. The opposite of rigidity.

Ah yes, black and white world where you live?...

Those decisions are based on a decision tree... End of story.  Observations are like sun, wind, and water to said tree.   If you don't have one, well, glad I am not going snowshoeing or ice climbing with you.  Before I go I and my partners decide which branches of the decision tree to prune based on NWAC and my previous experience along with snow pits. 

Has this stopped me from being stupid and being surrounded by avalanches popping off everywhere around me?  Of course not.  Why?  I failed using my decision tree after initial  evaluation of conditions. After this happened I went with a rigid tree using time based reevaluation periods that always must take place.  Never been in that situation again and it keeps myself mentally aware.  Still been in very high avy situations, but I stopped in a safe place and camped instead.

Labels are fun. But rigidity in the structure of decision making doesn't get you where you want to go, unless by rigidity, you mean at any approach to avalanche terrain or hazard, run the other way. That works.

More practically, though, for backcountry skiers and climbers there is going to be avalanche terrain encountered, most likely lots of it. (Hopefully, when conditions are reasonable with respect to avalanche hazard).

You describe using a structured method of decision making where you make observations based on time. In reality, once a concept of the likely principle concerns one might have on a particular day is considered, observations need to be made to observe those conditions and confirm or deny them initially. Subsequent observations are made to monitor the snowpack for change, which could be time based - but only if the terrain characteristics are unchanged; but also, any time the configuration of the terrain changes with respect to micrometeorological factors (like wind, or encountering a cold pocket out of expected wind, for e.g.). So these observations, which are usually most pertinent, cannot be time based by definition.

For those who haven't much knowledge of Avalanche education at this point in time, observations can be any number of things and include visual observations, more nebulous and experienced based "feel" of the snow, and various tests. Appropriate tests should depend on the depth and nature of the layer or boundary layer of concern - e.g.. bond to an ice crust, versus buried surface hoar. Observations often don't require digging a snow pit. Some situations do require this, however. Certainly, by learning to dig snow pits one learns a good deal over time about snowpack structure, good or bad. Observations, using a broad definition, could easily number in the hundreds on some days; far, far fewer on others.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
hikersarenumber1
Member
Member


Joined: 21 Apr 2015
Posts: 466 | TRs

hikersarenumber1
Member
PostFri Jan 13, 2017 10:20 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Some avy educators are advocating a fairly ridged checklist approach to avalanche terrain... basically conditions you check off and if you hit a certain number you turn around/don't go/adjust route.

Seems helpful to lower the emotional/human aspects...
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
gb
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 4283 | TRs

gb
Member
PostFri Jan 13, 2017 11:57 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
hikersarenumber1 wrote:
Some avy educators are advocating a fairly ridged checklist approach to avalanche terrain... basically conditions you check off and if you hit a certain number you turn around/don't go/adjust route.

That is (or is a derivative of) the Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale and Avaluator that is referenced in the Grant Statham article I suggested above.  Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale You will notice there are two concepts within the Exposure Scale; the basic scale and the more conceptual model suggested for more experienced users. The parameters of the more conceptual model represent what experienced individuals would ordinarily (or should be) thinking/analyzing.

But you are right. For those without a lot of experience this more rigid methodology is a good choice. It would also be a good choice for those who think that one can always fully comprehend the limits of avalanche hazard and terrain and push the limits.

It is not, however, the list of things that the guides of a hell-skiing operation would use. Although, by this time, I would think that a risk exposed and insurance dependent operation, would likely use a checklist as a formal procedure in the morning meeting. The discussion would be much deeper than a checklist and would involve particulars of hell-skiing runs and economic logistics, information from INFOEX, the guides recent observations of snowpack (and weather observations), and knowledge of the clients. The guides in the hell-skiing industry certainly have the most experience with regards to employing winter avalanche knowledge in NA.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
gb
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 4283 | TRs

gb
Member
PostFri Jan 13, 2017 12:21 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Here in fact is a checklist offered by Wiegele heli-skiing. It was apparently offered as presentation. CMH would undoubtedly have similar protocols but with some differences.

http://resources.wiegele.com/docs/powder_fascination_booklet.pdf

There is a whole wealth of good information in this article. Highly recommended.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
nordique
Member
Member


Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 727 | TRs

nordique
Member
PostFri Jan 13, 2017 10:50 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
At my advanced age--older even than gb--any sort of avy danger means that I ski at ski areas, within bounds--so I can live to ski yet another day.  And I come from the days before avalungs and beacons--way back when we trailed long thin red perlon ropes behind us, in avy terrain, so that our bodies could be recovered--or, with lots of luck, we could be dug out before we died.  And that was before small, light, avy shovels.

Only once was I caught up in a real avy, when my buddy and I skied up into an area that suddenly became a whiteout.  We decided to very slowly and carefully traverse back down to Bow Summit and our car.  We soon each skied off a cornice, in that whiteout, on very moderate terrain, almost at the same time, causing the slope below the cornice to avalanche, which carried us each down, below the cloud, to a huge cliff that dropped all the way down to Peyto Lake.  We came to rest just six feet from the top of that cliff.  That was about fifty years ago--and those fifty years I would NOT wanted to have missed!  To say nothing of the next fifty years!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Bernardo
Member
Member


Joined: 08 Feb 2010
Posts: 1561 | TRs
Location: out and about in the world
Bernardo
Member
PostFri Jan 13, 2017 11:59 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Wow, glad you survived to tell the tale.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
gb
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 4283 | TRs

gb
Member
PostSat Jan 14, 2017 8:09 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Most people are somewhat familiar with Ian MaCammon's work on heuristic traps:

Heuristic Traps in Avalanche Accidents

Dale Atkins, Colorado Avalanche Information Center (like NWAC) presented his study on "Human Factors", the biggy being overconfidence

Human factors in avalanche accidents
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
gb
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 4283 | TRs

gb
Member
PostSat Jan 14, 2017 8:42 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Here is the paper by Pascuel Haegeli on the Avaluator; a simple tool for decision making. It is available for purchase.

Avaluator
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trail Talk > Avalanche accidents/ persistent weak layers/human factors
  Happy Birthday Creaky Knees, ryleymyers, PNWdave, penc!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy