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Experts tapped for Avalanche Safety Workshop in Whitefish

Climbers hike through the area where an avalanche swept a Japanese climbing team off a hill during their descent from Alaska’s Mount McKinley. (Associated Press)
Climbers hike through the area where an avalanche swept a Japanese climbing team off a hill during their descent from Alaska’s Mount McKinley. (Associated Press)

WINTER SPORTS -- Snow is coming to the mountains, and the most savvy backcountry travelers are gearing up physically as well as on their snow-travel skills.  Here's a good start:

The 2ndannual Northern Rockies Avalanche Safety Workshop, Oct. 13, 2012, from 7:30 am until 6:30 pm at the Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, MT.

The one-day event mixes avalanche professionals and winter backcountry enthusiasts. The program is headlined by six speakers with varied experiences, backgrounds and expertise in avalanche forecasting, theory, information processing, emergency decision making and other up-to-date backcountry information.  

Session topics range from technical (recent developments in stability and fracture propagation tests) to personal (Elyse Saugstad’s real life survival story.)  The full schedule for the day is available online

“The Workshop is about learning, networking, seeing old and making new friends," said Ted Steiner, NRASW chairman.  "It's also a time to remember that winter is on the way, get excited about getting outside, and most importantly, remember we need to be safe and educated when traveling the backcountry.  We need to come home to our families and enjoy season upon season of future winter endeavors."

 Read on for more details about the speakers and registering for the event.

Northern Rockies Avalanche Safety Workshop speakers:

  • Karl Birkeland is founder of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center in Bozeman and has spent the past 30 years working professionally as a ski patroller, educator, backcountry forecaster and researcher.
  • Scott Savage has been an avalanche forecaster for Big Sky Resort in Montana, but more recently has toured the country giving lectures and talks analyzing his and other avalanche professionals’ experience and mistakes.
  • LeeAnn Allegretto is the Avalanche Program Leader for the Missoula National Weather Service. She is responsible for managing and updating backcountry weather data/forecasts.
  • Elyse Saugstad is a professional skier from Girdwood, Alaska and has a long list of accomplishments as a ski film star, competitive freeride skier and accomplished backcountry skier.
  • Christopher Robinson was deployed as a Navy SEAL in 2003-2004 where he specialized in assignments that dealt with stressful group dynamics and excelled in decision making methods to optimize performance and survival.
  • Dale Atkins has more than 30 years of experience as an avalanche expert as a rescuer, forecaster, researcher and educator working in recreational, industrial and municipal domains.

Where:Grouse Mountain Lodge, Whitefish Montana

When: Saturday, October 13, 2012, 7:30am to 6:30 pm

Cost: Pre-Register - $20, At the door- $25

Pay online, or mail a check to NRASW at P.O. Box 4203 Whitefish, MT. 59937. Registration fees are non-refundable.


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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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