Eastern Snow Avalanche Workshop 11-5-11

This past Saturday 80+ people attended the first annual Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop (ESAW). Members from organizations involved in avalanche education, snow science, and search and rescue from all over the greater New England area were in attendance.


Chris Joosen, Lead Snow Ranger for USFS on Mt. Washington gave a talk on Spatial Variability in the White Mountains. Later in the afternoon he discussed avalanche accidents on Mount Washington, the eastern dilemma, and the role of social media and innovation, past, present and future.

Jim Giglinto, a New York State Forest Ranger gave a presentation on Avalanches in the Adirondacks.  Of particular interest to the group were the pictures presented depicting how existing slide paths have grown, some by more than 50%, in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Looks like there might be some potential first descents available this season!

Kyle Tyler, the Eastern Representative of the American Avalanche Association gave a high speed informative talk on Propagation propensity of persistent weak layers.

Rebecca Scholand from the Mount Washington Observatory gave an graphically beautiful and informative talk on Upslope Snow and it’s development and effects upon the White Mountains of NH. I’ll be begging her for some of her slides to use in future avalanche courses.

After breaking for lunch Sam Colbeck, the former Senior Research Scientist at the Army’s Cold Region Research and Engineering Laboratory, gave a fascinating talk on Snow Physics, most notably how recent advances in technology have allowed us to get a better understanding of snow in relation to avalanches. His slides depicting different stages of metamorphism were very impressive.

Eric Siefer, the Northeast rep for Mammut gave a presentation on the technology of air bags and their effect on avalanche safety. The cumulation of which was the demonstration of the technology by one young audience member.

The last talk was given by Jonathan Shefftz, a member of the National Ski Patrol and passionate avalanche educator, who spoke about the benefits of giving Level 1 Avalanche Students pre-course homework. You can imagine that generated some entertaining discussion.

To wrap up the event most people retired to a social hour upstairs the nearby International Mountain Equipment store where there were vendor booths, raffles, and some graciously donated beer from Smuttynose.

Many folks headed over to Flatbread Co. to continue the snow talk over dinner. All in all it was a great 1st event and something the east coast community will undoubtedly benefit from. The proceeds from the event are going to the White Mountain Avalanche Education Fund.   The fund is set up primarily to educate kids about avalanches across the Northeast.  For more information on this fund check out: http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/about/white-mountain-avalanche-education-fund. Special thanks to Chris Joosen and Kyle Tyler for putting it all together!

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