Jackson Hole Avalanche Awareness Night
On Thursday, December 6th at Snow King Resort, the skiing, snowboarding and outdoor community in Jackson Hole gathered for an evening of avalanche awareness and education. Representatives from the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Teton County Search and Rescue, Friends of the Pathways and others spoke to the importance of safety in the backcountry.
Featured speaker Drew Hardesty of the Utah Avalanche Center went to great efforts in stressing the responsibility each backcountry traveler undertakes when navigating mountain terrain in the 21st Century. His presentation touched on the importance of not only looking after yourself, but others in the area who may be affected by your decisions. Alluding to close calls in Utah and Idaho, his message hit home with the crowd, recognizing that more and more people are venturing into the accessible backcountry terrain located in the Tetons. The presentation ended with a question to the audience: Will we let this happen here? (alluding to an accident in which a skier triggered avalanche hit a bus carrying children in Utah). After 10 seconds of silence, the crowd spoke up with a resounding “No!”.
From snowpack summaries to equipment essentials, each presenter provided valuable information regarding the importance of being prepared for any situation in the backcountry. Teton Pass Ambassador Jay Pistono representing the Friends of the Pathways highlighted procedures for etiquette on Teton Pass, including parking, handling of pets, and common knowledge. The main points he stressed were the importance of understanding how your decisions effect others, most notably avalanches that could impact drivers traveling on Highway 22. Several avalanche slide paths create danger for motorist and it is the responsibility of backcountry travelers to take caution in their decision making when considering to ski areas such as Glory Bowl and Twin Slides.
A highlight of the annual event is the presentation by Jim Woodmency of Mountain Weather about the winter forecast in Jackson Hole. Before diving into his analysis of the weather, Woodemency took time to emphasize the importance of avalanche education. Offering his analysis of the short and long term weather patterns, he highlighted recent trends and how they are affecting the flow of precipitation to the region. Woodmency pointed out the existence of no El Nino or La Nina trend which historically means our region with have a 30% chance of an above average snowfall season. To date, we’re trending towards the upside.