ISSW2016: Radios, Rescue Protocols & Freeride Leadership in High-Use Avalanche Terrain

Bruce Edgerly and Matt Steen present their white paper at the ISSW16 Poster Session in Breckenridge, CO.

Winter backcountry travel is increasingly more popular, especially adjacent to ski areas and common-use trailheads. Thought out an clear communication, advanced avalanche rescue and patient-care education and leveraging freeride athlete leadership can aid in avalanche prevention, rescue response and safety. Read three new white papers published for the 2016 International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW2016).

Utilizing Common Radio Channels in High-Use Avalanche Terrain
By Matt Steen, Telluride Helitrax and Bruce Edgerly, Backcountry Access, Inc.

Backcountry winter recreation and travel is on the rise. Easily accessed areas like trailheads and lift-accessed terrain are becoming increasingly popular and sometimes crowded.  In an effort to increase the safety of users, common-use radio channels have the ability to streamline communication between group members and adjoining user groups. The goal is to enhance safe travel protocols through increased communication, ideally cutting down on close calls and increasing the efficiency of rescue if needed.

Over the course of the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 winter seasons, the Telluride backcountry community tested the use of common backcountry radio channels to increase and streamline communication in the Bear Creek “sidecountry.” This program has proven beneficial in the effectiveness to communicate in high-use areas.

In this white paper, we have compiled stories and survey results to prove that advanced communication in high use avalanche terrain should be considered in various ski communities around the world.

issw_utilizingcommonradiochannels-940x485Download the “Utilizing Common Radio Channels In High-Use Avalanche Terrain” white paper to learn more.


Thanks to Telluride Helitrax, the Telluride Mountain Club, and Jagged Edge Mountain Gear for their support in developing this white paper, and their efforts in promoting safe travel and public access for backcountry hiking, skiing and boarding, mountaineering, climbing and other outdoor recreation activities.

Post-Avalanche Rescue and Injury Protocol at the Recreational Level
By Steve Christie, Backcountry Access, Inc.

You got the gear, the training, the forecast and the big picture — but your party still got caught in an avalanche.  Now, how ready are you really to perform post-avalanche patient care and rescue?  BCA’s Steve Christie surveyed hundreds of backcountry professionals and recreationists around this very question in research for his ISSW2016 white paper: After the Avalanche: Protocol for Evacuation and Medical Treatment.   This paper covers an important area for improvement: preparing backcountry users for scenarios that could require evacuation or medical treatment of an injured person after an avalanche.

Read the paper and the watch the complete BCA companion rescue video series, with three new video segments on organizing a rescue, post-avalanche patient care and backcountry evacuation. Covers emergency medical attention, building a rescue sled, evacuation options and decisioning.


Download the “Post-Avalanche Rescue and Injury Protocol at the Recreational Level” white paper to learn more.

3-2-1 Dropping! Harnessing Freeride Athletes as Avalanche Ambassadors
By Bruce Edgerly, Backcountry Access, Inc.

In a ISSW 2014 study commissioned by Project Zero, Kruse identified “peer ambassadors” as potentially more effective at reaching aggressive, young 17-to-30 year-old “sidecountry” riders than so-called top-down communication from traditional sources.

In December 2015, BCA, the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association (IFSA) and Project Zero (since renamed The Avalanche Project) executed on the Kruse study with a peer-to-peer awareness campaign using respected freeskiing competitors and film athletes as peer ambassadors. We teamed up to get these high-profile riders into avalanche courses and then prompted them to communicate their experiences to peers through social media channels.

This white paper provides valuable insights into how to affect the behaviors of this at-risk group of impressionable young out-of-bounds riders.


Download the “3-2-1 Dropping! Harnessing Freeride Athletes as Avalanche Ambassadors” white paper to learn more.
3-2-1-avalanche-logos-940x144Thanks to the American Avalanche Institute, the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE), The Avalanche Project and theInternational Freeskiers and Snowboards Association (IFSA) for their support in developing this white paper.