Forum Index > Trail Talk > Avalanche Victims Are Trending Older
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Cyclopath
Faster than light



Joined: 20 Mar 2012
Posts: 3601 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Cyclopath
  Top

Faster than light
PostMon Feb 10, 2020 3:52 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Quick read, and a good reminder to be safe and to consider taking another avalanche course if it's been many years.

https://www.outsideonline.com/2408784/avalanche-victims-trending-older
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
texasbb
Misplaced Texan



Joined: 30 Mar 2009
Posts: 953 | TRs
Location: Tri-Cities, WA
texasbb
  Top

Misplaced Texan
PostMon Feb 10, 2020 4:34 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I wouldn't waste too many synapses worrying about it.  The data are not useful currently.  From the linked article:

Quote:
While the authors caution that it’s hard to draw conclusions from the study because they don’t have the parent data—ages for the entire population of backcountry users—it’s still troubling that those who are older and presumably more experienced are dying more often than they were in the past.

It came out of their own mouth and they didn't hear it.  Since they don't know the (change in the) age distribution of the population of backcountry users, they know nothing about the change in distribution of backcountry deaths.  How can it still be "troubling" that the rate of older skiers dying is "more" than it was?  Given what they (don't) know, it's entirely possible that the rate of 30-something deaths is going down relative to the young pups.  The article even mentioned several anecdotal data points showing the distribution of backcountry users is trending toward these "older" folks.

We're certainly no better informed from reading the article, and possibly misinformed.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Kim Brown
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2009
Posts: 5576 | TRs

Kim Brown
  Top

Member
PostMon Feb 10, 2020 4:45 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
article wrote:
those who are older and presumably more experienced are dying more often than they were in the past.

They die more often than they did in the past?

Hm.. I am a firm believer in the one-shot deal. Once you're dead, you stay dead. One time. No do overs.

--------------
" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
RumiDude
Marmota olympus



Joined: 26 Jul 2009
Posts: 2795 | TRs
Location: Port Angeles
RumiDude
  Top

Marmota olympus
PostMon Feb 10, 2020 4:46 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
This has actually been known for quite a while. Experienced people often make poor decisions because they are overconfident in their assesment skills, i.e. familiarity breeds contempt. This happens a lot in mountaineering as well. As stated in the piece: "“we don’t always get good feedback from our decision-making. It’s hard to know if we made a good decision or just got away with a bad one.” That can create a false sense of confidence."

Rumi

--------------
"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Anne Elk
BrontosaurusTheorist



Joined: 07 Sep 2018
Posts: 778 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Anne Elk
  Top

BrontosaurusTheorist
PostMon Feb 10, 2020 5:22 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Cyclopath wrote:
...consider taking another avalanche course if it's been many years.

While that's always a good idea, there's obviously still some kind of disconnect going on.  Consider the skill levels of the people who died during the incidents mentioned here, which most here are likely familiar with. I agree with others that the Outside article is junk statistics, for the reasons they mentioned.  More disposable income + flex work schedules (as a trend) are factors, too.

As an aside, specific locales have so many micro-climate variables; how can one ever depend on just a forecast?  All backcountry travel in winter seems like rolling the dice.  I gave up X-C backcountry skiing when I left Canada; I figured a great day in the Cascades would probably be like a so-so day in the Canadian Rockies.  The "acceptable risk" mindset seems to have changed a lot over the decades, too.  Accessing and then skiing Vesper Peak?  Yipes!  A small reflection perhaps, of the trend toward so many more people willing to do increasingly crazy outdoor stuff in general.  shakehead.gif

--------------
"There are yahoos out there.  It’s why we can’t have nice things."  - Tom Mahood
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
RandyHiker
Snarky Member



Joined: 27 Jul 2008
Posts: 6908 | TRs
Location: Bellevue at the moment.
RandyHiker
  Top

Snarky Member
PostMon Feb 10, 2020 7:30 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Quote:
36 years old

They think that's old ??

Anyway -- as with most things on Outside Online -- this isn't news -- it's just recycled knowledge.

When I took an Avy 1 refresher more than a decade ago one of the talking points was that folks with 7-10 years of experience have higher rates of incidents and close calls.    Snow stability analysis is an imperfect art and when people have racked up hundreds of trips without triggering an avalanche they start to tolerate higher degrees of uncertainty.   Until they or someone they know closely gets hammered and their risk tolerance gets reset.

I got to take a ride when I was in my teens -- no physical damage -- but I developed a deep respect for the power of a "river of snow" flowing down the mountain.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
RumiDude
Marmota olympus



Joined: 26 Jul 2009
Posts: 2795 | TRs
Location: Port Angeles
RumiDude
  Top

Marmota olympus
PostMon Feb 10, 2020 10:26 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
RandyHiker wrote:
I got to take a ride when I was in my teens -- no physical damage -- but I developed a deep respect for the power of a "river of snow" flowing down the mountain.

+1 ... though I did suffer some knee damage, broken ribs, and really banged up.  I was in my early 20s, living for skiing in Colorado (1973-1975). I learned how much I didn't know and how wrong I was to trust others whom I thought knew. Shortly after that I lost two ski buddies and it REALLY hit home how incredibly lucky I had been up to that point.

RandyHiker wrote:
folks with 7-10 years of experience have higher rates of incidents and close calls.    Snow stability analysis is an imperfect art and when people have racked up hundreds of trips without triggering an avalanche they start to tolerate higher degrees of uncertainty.

Ironically, sometimes the person with the most experience without having had an accident is the one with the worst judgement.

Rumi

--------------
"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
RandyHiker
Snarky Member



Joined: 27 Jul 2008
Posts: 6908 | TRs
Location: Bellevue at the moment.
RandyHiker
  Top

Snarky Member
PostMon Feb 10, 2020 11:04 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
RumiDude wrote:
Ironically, sometimes the person with the most experience without having had an accident is the one with the worst judgement.

Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Pahoehoe
Member
Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2017
Posts: 532 | TRs

Pahoehoe
  Top

Member
PostTue Feb 11, 2020 5:30 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
RandyHiker wrote:
RumiDude wrote:
Ironically, sometimes the person with the most experience without having had an accident is the one with the worst judgement.


This only is true if you get not fatal negative feedback from bad decisions.

People are "lucky" and attribute it to skill and grow and grow in confidence and their peers gain respect for them until their luck runs out.

Winter travel in avalanche terrain is Russia roulette.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
joker
seeker



Joined: 12 Aug 2006
Posts: 7813 | TRs
Location: state of confusion
joker
  Top

seeker
PostTue Feb 11, 2020 10:48 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
RumiDude wrote:
This has actually been known for quite a while. Experienced people often make poor decisions because they are overconfident in their assesment skills, i.e. familiarity breeds contempt.

But I don't think this would explain why the deaths are skewing older recently. As this has always been true - if anything there's more awareness now of "heuristic traps" and the fact that psychology is even more important than snow science to staying safe.

I suspect that this simply has more to do with the aging of the ski touring population but w/o some proper data analysis that's just a guess.

And yeah close calls can help one learn and become more careful, but my close calls were "near misses" and not being entrained in a slide, whereas I have a friend who has some ongoing knee issues from  his ride in a slide and I don't tour with him much as I don't like the way he skews toward risk even after his incident.
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: 2795 | TRs
Location: Port Angeles
RumiDude
  Top

Marmota olympus
PostTue Feb 11, 2020 3:08 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Pahoehoe wrote:
People are "lucky" and attribute it to skill and grow and grow in confidence and their peers gain respect for them until their luck runs out.

This is absolutely true. Whenever I hear that someone is an experienced  ... whatever, I take it with a grain of salt. I have known too many people who have tons of experience yet are just out and out dangerous in their practices.

Pahoehoe wrote:
Winter travel in avalanche terrain is Russia roulette.

This I disagree with. Certainly it involved more exposure to danger than sitting in front of the fireplace, but it isn't Russian roulette. Ed Viesturs has been lucky a time or two, but he has also been a cautious climber. He has generally mitigated his exposure to danger, i.e. his risk. And that is one reason he is still alive and still has all his fingers and toes.

People entering avalanche terrain can do much to mitigate risk. There will always be unknown factors but it's not a crap shoot out there.

Rumi

--------------
"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
joker
seeker



Joined: 12 Aug 2006
Posts: 7813 | TRs
Location: state of confusion
joker
  Top

seeker
PostTue Feb 11, 2020 3:16 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Yes I read Russian Roulette as suggesting very poor odds. In the neighborhood of one in six chance of death. With thoughtful risk mitigation you can definitely have much better odds than that. If you point is that risk is non zero if traveling on or under avalanche terrain yeah that's true. But as Rumib says you can manage the risk down (or up!)
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Pahoehoe
Member
Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2017
Posts: 532 | TRs

Pahoehoe
  Top

Member
PostTue Feb 11, 2020 7:49 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Statistically, you are right but the vast majority of avalanche victims are respected members of the community that others in the community would expect to make good choices.  Most are experienced.

Friends of the victims defend them and their choices and strangers rip them apart.

Look at the ski resort avys this season.

Those werent people out making the choice to shred a fun pow line they climbed for or the lame trail back down.  There were no group dynamics or expert halos at play.  These were pros charged with deciding if slopes were safe for skiers skiing inbounds terrain.

Professional snow safety experts got it wrong and people depending on them died.

I can swallow the whole skiing, especially expert terrain, can never be 100% safe pill.  I'm onboard, but if that isnt Russian roulette, I dont know what is.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
RandyHiker
Snarky Member



Joined: 27 Jul 2008
Posts: 6908 | TRs
Location: Bellevue at the moment.
RandyHiker
  Top

Snarky Member
PostTue Feb 11, 2020 11:50 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Pahoehoe wrote:
I'm onboard, but if that isnt Russian roulette, I dont know what is.

Skiing doesn't crack into the top 5

https://www.rulesofsport.com/faq/what-is-the-world-s-most-dangerous-sport.html

Even base jumping where the odds of dying are 1 in 2,317 is much safer than Russian Roulette's 1 in 6

Riding my bike is far more likely to kill me due to someone making a facebook update complaining about traffic and having their Prius veer into the shoulder and mow me down.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
RumiDude
Marmota olympus



Joined: 26 Jul 2009
Posts: 2795 | TRs
Location: Port Angeles
RumiDude
  Top

Marmota olympus
PostWed Feb 12, 2020 12:18 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Pahoehoe wrote:
I can swallow the whole skiing, especially expert terrain, can never be 100% safe pill.  I'm onboard, but if that isnt Russian roulette, I dont know what is.

Well almost every activity has hazards and risks. That doesn't make them Russian roulette.

Pahoehoe wrote:
Statistically, you are right but the vast majority of avalanche victims are respected members of the community that others in the community would expect to make good choices.  Most are experienced. Friends of the victims defend them and their choices and strangers rip them apart.

It is natural for family and friends to defend their choices regardless of the quality of the decision making.

Human decisions are fraught with hidden human foibles. So much of the imput to our decision making never even rises to the level of consciousness. But we can mitigate our own human foibles in snow slope evaluation. The more we understand about avalanches and about human decision making, the more we can mitigate the risks in avalanche terrain. We have come a looooooong way since the 1960s and 1970s, when I first began recreating in avalanche terrain, in both the physics of avalanches and understanding of how the human brain works.

Rumi

--------------
"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
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 Victims Are Trending Older
  Happy Birthday Brian Curtis, Cascade Hiker Podcast!
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