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 University of Utah
  • Jonas Tarlen Three Sisters Backcountry


avalanche education, outdoor recreation, skiing, ALPTRUTH, Obvious Clues Method, decision-making


Avalanche accidents injure and kill outdoor winter recreationists despite widespread educational programming and effective snowpack analysis techniques. To better understand how skiers make decisions based on environmental clues, this study focused on the Obvious Clues Method (OCM) as a framework for avalanche decision-making. The OCM is a decision-making tool developed to ease the burden of decision-making in hazardous avalanche terrain. Research participants—all enrolled in an avalanche education program— indicated the likelihood that they would ski a slope based on a variety of avalanche conditions, as recommended by the OCM. Results suggest that some clues were perceived as more important in decision-making than others, that slope angle significantly influenced decision-making, and that avalanche education courses can change how people evaluate environmental factors.



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