Utah Avalanche Center Rolls Out New Programs
Working for an avalanche center may not seem like a year-round job, but the reality is that there is much to do before the snow starts falling. Utah Avalanche Center Director Mark Staples and his team have been hard at work throughout the summer so that come winter, they can concentrate on the most important part of their job: forecasting. Here are just a few projects they’re excited to roll out as they head into their 41st winter season.
This coming season, the wildly successful Know Before You Go (KBYG) program is getting its largest revamp with professional filmmaking, a new website, and an entire multimedia package that will be offered in multiple languages. Then, in the fall of 2022, the program will include e-learning and a whole suite of additional products. The program was originally created after a tragic avalanche in 2004 killed three boys. Examining the incident, the UAC realized that they did not necessarily have a forecasting problem, they had a communication problem. They wanted to create an avalanche awareness presentation that could reach people far and wide yet not compete with current avalanche education.
The UAC has also been focusing on utilizing social media to fill in more communication gaps, using the platforms for forecaster reports from the field, accident reports, and decision-making discussions. These videos allow the daily user to see and hear the process that goes into avalanche danger ratings as well as learn in small, digestible segments. The UAC also has established a trailhead program, where different forecasters have an information tent at some of the more popular trailheads throughout the season.
Another of the UAC’s goals in the coming year is to continue to connect with more snowmobilers and expand their communication in the motorized community. The plan includes the new UAC Education Center for the non-profit Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, which will expand programming and centralize outreach.
The UAC will also be continuing to hold their annual Snow and Avalanche Workshops. UAC is the only avalanche center, to our knowledge, that currently offers both professional and general attendance sessions. The PRO USAW is a great opportunity for avalanche professionals and covers some industry specific topics.
As we head into another winter, be sure to check out your local avalanche center to find out what new programs will be cropping up in your neck of the woods.
Tarah O’Connor has worked in the outdoors for 20 years as an EMT, ski patroller, avalanche educator, and ski guide. She lives in Ogden, Utah, and continues to make skiing her first priority.