Environmental Factors Affecting the Predicted Decisions of Backcountry Skiers: An Examination of the Obvious Clues Method Decision Aid


  • Nate Furman Green Mountain College
  • Wynn Shooter Monash University
  • Jonas Tarlen Three Sisters Backcountry


Snow avalanches present a dangerous and potentially fatal hazard to wintertime backcountry enthusiasts, and individuals who participate in wintertime mountain recreation often expose themselves to avalanche hazards. In the winter of 2009-10, 36 people were killed by avalanches in the United States, and from 1999/10 to 2009/10, there were 316 avalanche-related fatalities--97% of which were recreationists. (Colorado Avalanche Information Center, n.d.). The discipline of avalanche science has countered the rising accident and fatality rate with both research and education. Recent empirical work has focused on developing appropriate models of decision-making (McCammon & Haegeli, 2007), refining snowpack analysis tests to better inform backcountry skiers (Lehning et al., 2002), developing better rescue techniques (Genswein & Eide, 2008), and developing new technologies designed to reduce the chance of injury or deaths (Radwin & Grissom, 2002).