11th Annual Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop (USAW) Open Session

11th Annual Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop (USAW) Open Session

Salt Lake
October 27, 2018
Regular price
Sale price

Join us for the 11th Annual USAW, where Utah’s avalanche community will team up with snow professionals from around the west to share avalanche knowledge. Regional avalanche workshops are the most time and cost-effective way to build and refresh advanced avalanche skills available. This is your chance to learn from avalanche experts and brush up your skills before the start of the season.

This is a high-level continuing education opportunity meant to give the avalanche community access to the latest and greatest information. This is the only avalanche workshop in Utah addressing snow science, decision-making, the changing backcountry, and lessons learned from recent accidents.

You’ll learn from and network with forecasters, patrollers, snow scientists, highway avalanche crews, search & rescue personnel, mountain guides, ski industry manufacturers, backcountry skiers & snowboarders, snowmobilers, avalanche researchers, and more.  The format will be 15-minute presentations followed by Q&A. There will be sponsor booths with the latest gear and gear giveaways.

Last year, USAW sold out, so don't wait to get your tickets. Pre-registration closes on Wednesday, October 24th at noon. After that, you can get tickets for $55 at the door. Lunch, coffee/beverage service, and post-workshop happy hour are included.

Once again this year we will have a session focused on snowmobiler and snowbiker issues. Details and registration here.

The Friday, October 26th professional session will include a Blaster's Clinic, Risk Management Clinic, and technical topics. Details and registration here.

The Open Session will run from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM followed by a social hour.


  • 07:15-07:45: Open Session Registration

    08:00-9:40 Human Factors and the Stability Perception Conundrum

    • 08:00-08:05: Welcome
    • 08:05-08:20: Winter Weather Forecasting- A glance under the hood Glen Merrill- National Weather Service
    • 08:25-08:45: ISSW Recap- A review of few key presentations from the 2018 ISSW in Innsbruck with a focus on human factors and decision-making- Greg Gagne, Utah Avalanche Center
    • 08:50- 09:10: Subjective Risk Perception in Objectively Dangerous SpacesHow partners, knowledge, experience, and familiarity with terrain all factor into our perceptions of risk.- Russ Costa, Associate Professor of Honors & Neuroscience, Westminster College
    • 9:15-09:35: Say What? Words of Estimative Probability and the Language of the North American Public Avalanche Danger Scale. Are We All Communicating the Same Risk- Jimmy Tart

    09:40-10:10 Break

    10:10-11:45: Challenges With an Unconventional Snowpack

    • 10:10-10:15: Welcome
    • 10:15-10:20: eLearning Update
    • 10:25-10:45: Utah Winter Review: A look back at the winter of 2017-18
    • 10:50-11:10: Provo Area Mountains- Who is the sleeping maiden in your own backyard- John Woodruff- UDOT
    • 11:15-11:35: I’m Alive - Surviving an Avalanche in the Meadow Chutes—A presentation on the factors leading up to being caught in and surviving an avalanche from a first person perspective- Peter Ingle- PhD, Westminster College
    • 11:40-12:00: Weak, Layered and Structured… a Snow Stability Enigma- How a perceived lack of strength in a shallow snowpack can conspire against us whilst suggesting green light conditions - Craig Gordon

    12:00-13:00 LUNCH

    13:05-14:40: Decision Making/Affecting Other People’s Days

    • 13:00-13:05: Welcome
    • 13:05-13:25: Decisions… Decisions- An early morning tour begs the question “Where are we going?”- Devin Loertscher
    • 13:30-14:15: Female Decision Making From a Rec Standpoint– Shaun Raskin, Ashley Patterson, Emilee Drinkwater, Cindi Lou Grant, Quinn Graves
    • 14:20-14:40: Avalanche Accidents and the Impact on Their Families- A personal viewpoint addressing long term effects avalanches have on our lives once the dust has settled- Austin Balls, Levi Johnson

    14:45-15:05 Break

    15:10-16:00: Know Your Posse

    • 15:10-15:15: Welcome
    • 15:15-15:35: Big Red Cats- An avalanche survivor discusses the importance of having solid partners- Rich Nydegger
    • 15:40-16:00: Knowing the "I" in RiskA changing paradigm of decision making through

    through the years- Noah Howell

    16:00-17:00: Social Hour

Open Session Details:

  • Date: Saturday, October 27, 2017
  • Time: 8:00 AM - 5:45 PM
  • Location: Mountain America Expo Center, 9575 State St, Sandy, UT 84070