The nonprofit that helps fund and facilitate the work of the
Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center
Happy Spring from the Friends of Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center!
This will be the last full newsletter of the season. We hope you have found them informative and interesting. THANK YOU to those who have donated throughout the winter. With 2/3 of the BTAC budget coming from private dollars, your generous contributions the work of the BTAC can continue.
A few words about who we are and what we do- the Friends supports the BTAC by extending the forecast season as conditions require, improving the forecast and risk assessment tools available to users of the BTAC website, and helping to provide avalanche awareness and education to the community. Our work provides backcountry travelers a wide range of tools and information with which to make their plans.
BTAC is the expert source for daily avalanche hazard information, real-time data from around the region, user sourced observations, and many other resources to support decision making for a safe and rewarding adventure.
Celebrate the season with new BTAC Merchandise!
Celebrate the season with new BTAC merchandise. Show your support for BTAC with the purchase of our new hats and stickers, now available at the BTNF office located at 340 N. Cache. Hats are $20 and stickers are $2. All proceeds go directly to the BTAC.
Support BTAC with Your JHMR Pass Purchase
The spring pass sale for JHMR starts April 9th! Get the very best price for the 2019/20 season and support BTAC in the process. When you purchase your pass please check the box to donate $5.00 to the BTAC. The proceeds collected by this campaign are highly significant to the BTAC budget. Thank you to the JHMR for providing us with this important fundraising opportunity again this year.
Identifying Heuristic Traps in the Backcountry
90% of avalanches are triggered by the victims. What are the heuristic traps that most commonly lead to human triggered avalanches? Stay safe by becoming aware of and avoiding these common patterns. These factors were first identified by Ian McMammon in his 2004 article "Heuristic Traps in Recreational Avalanche Accidents" and have been expanded upon here.
The expert halo: in which everybody defers to whoever is seen as the most experienced in the group. Don't discount your own experience, knowledge and observations when making decisions in avalanche terrain.
Familiarity: Being familiar with the terrain can lead to complacency and riskier decision-making. Perhaps you skied it yesterday and 100 times before that, but conditions change daily if not hourly in the mountains.
Tracks: Tracks on a slope are not a sign of stability and do not indicate sound judgement of those who went before you. Trusting other tracks is bait. MANY avalanches are triggered by the third or fourth person in a group or by subsequent groups. And remember, those who wander may be lost.
Competition: Competing against other groups for fresh powder, or against each other, can lead to bad decisions. With more people in the backcountry powder fever can cloud your judgement. First tracks are not worth dying for.
Commitment to a goal: When the attainment of a certain goal, like a summit, becomes paramount, mistakes can occur. Having a plan is always a good idea, but be prepared to change that plan as conditions merit.
Showing off: Sometimes known as Kodak Courage or Facebook Fame, the desire to impress others, whether it’s in your group or on social media, can negatively influence behavior. Remember that seeing is not always believing and does not mean a line is safe.
Physiological condition: Tiredness, dehydration, hunger and cold can all reduce decision-making. Take care of your basic needs so you can perform at your highest level.
Spring Forecast Schedule
The avalanche center will continue normal operations until Sunday, April 21. Shoulder season operations will occur from April 22 until late May. The last evening avalanche hazard forecast will be on Saturday evening, April 20, and the last morning avalanche hazard bulletins will be issued on Sunday morning, April 21. The last RPK weather forecast issued for the BTAC by the Riverton Office of the NWS will be on Sunday, April 21.
During the shoulder season the avalanche center will:
Continue to operate most of the automated weather stations.
Post the 24 hour summary of the weather station data on a daily basis.
Post avalanche observations, field observations and snowpit profiles.
Post weekly snowpack summaries.
Field and avalanche observations submitted by the public during the shoulder season are greatly appreciated.
Finally, due to a hard winter and an increase in sheep fatality, Grand Teton National Park has extended its bighorn sheep winter habitat closure on Mount Hunt and in the Prospector Mountain/Static Peak area from April 1 until April 30. Please respect these closures.