Boondocking, Highmarking and Spatial Variability on the Agenda at Regional Avalanche Workshop

The Northern Rockies Avalanche Safety Workshop (NRASW) will take place October 1, 2011 at 8:00am at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish. Five of the region’s prominent avalanche professionals will present practical safety information and research. Workshop attendees will learn about the current state of the snow safety industry, see demos of safety skills and meet people with a common goal – staying safe in avalanche-prone terrain. Organizers say this is the first time a workshop like this has been offered in the Flathead Valley.

“The number of winter backcountry enthusiasts in our area has increased dramatically in recent years, and skill levels have progressed exponentially with each new season,” says Ted Steiner, NRASW Chairman.  “At the same time, our winter backcountry community has experienced an increase of avalanche-related incidents. This event is meant to help answer the ‘what can we do’ question when it comes to improving the margin of safety.”

The five speakers include:

  • Don Sharaf is co-owner of the American Avalanche Institute and is the avalanche forecaster/lead guide for Valdez Heli-Ski Guides.
  • Doug Richmond is the Ski Patrol Director at Bridger Bowl in Bozeman and has been patrolling throughout the west since 1973 with patrol experience in the Sierra and Colorado Rockies.
  • Dr. Jordy Hendrikx is the Director of the Snow & Avalanche Laboratory and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Montana State University, in Bozeman.
  • Lynne Wolfe is a certified AAA instructor at the American Avalanche Institute and editor of the Avalanche Review
  • Mark Staples is an avalanche forecaster for the Gallatin N.F. Avalanche Center in Bozeman, focusing on avalanche awareness for motorized sports.


Session topics range from the technical (“Stability Tests and the Role of Spatial Variability” and “Highmarking, Boondocking and Hill Climbing”) to the personal. (“The Human Condition: How self-knowledge can help us make better decisions”)  The full schedule for the day is available online.

Where: Grouse Mountain Lodge, Whitefish Montana When: Saturday, October 1, 2011, 7:30am to 6:30pm Cost: Pre-Register  – $15, At the door- $20  Pre-register online, or mail a check to NRASW at PO Box 4203 Whitefish, MT. 59937. Registration fees are NON-REFUNDABLE.

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Ryan Alford