Risk Assessment and Risk Management

How do you assess and manage risk in a complex environment? It’s important to spend some time understanding yourself and what stressors influence your decision making. It is also important to understand tools for managing risk in the world of snow and avalanches.

In the following several videos, Don Sharaf will talk through risk assessment and risk management as he talks through mistakes that he has made during his career.

Take the time to draw the trajectory of your career. It doesn’t have to match Bruce Tremper’s hypothetical graph. Take the time to think through when your confidence increased and what influenced that. Think about times when your confidence fell and what influenced that loss of confidence.

Were We Good or Were We Lucky?

How do you learn from your mistakes? How do you build margin into your plans for the day? Let’s talk through a couple of these themes.

Here is a video interview discussing Recognition Primed Decision Making with research psychologist Gary Klein.

Analyzing Risk and Frequency by Gordon Graham. This is a portion of a talk given at an NCS4 Conference about analyzing risk. Gordon Graham has a background in law enforcement, risk management, and has also been a practicing attorney in California.

Interested in a more thorough snowpack review?

The following snowpack videos are a review from Pro 1. This is not required watching. Feel free to pick and choose from the below videos if you are interested in reviewing snow metamorphism.

ROUNDING is a metamorphic process that can happen within the snowpack. Rounding occurs when there is a small temperature gradient in the snowpack. Rounding is a strengthening process.

How do facets form on the surface of the snow? What drives growth of depth hoar?

Faceting can also occur on the surface of the snowpack. Faceting that happens at the top of the snowpack, rather than at the bottom of the snowpack is called Near Surface Faceting. There are 3 different near surface faceting processes – Diurnal Recrystallization, Radiation Recrystallization, and Melt Layer Recrystallization.

In the following video, Jake will cover the faceting process.

How is surface hoar formed? How does it strengthen?

In the following short video, Jake covers surface hoar formation.

When the temperature is above 0° C, the snowpack begins to move through a melt-freeze metamorphism. This means that the snowpack is often going through swings of being very strong when it’s frozen and very weak when it’s not frozen each day.

Here is a deeper dive on wet snow and wet snow forecasting.

And the conclusion of the snowpack class:

As you complete your terrain mapping exercise, you will be asked to build a mitigation plan.

In order to build an effective mitigation plan, it is important to have a basic understanding of avalanche mitigation and explosives application. Below, Robby Young will walk you through some foundational knowledge.

As we begin to understand the purpose of explosives application, as well as properties of explosives, we want to expand on the types of explosives and their characteristics.

And as we gain a better understanding of explosives properties, it is now time to explore how explosives are delivered, things to consider about these delivery rates and some risks to watch out for.

Avalanche Mapping – An introduction to mapping techniques and field measurements

Knowing how to map avalanche paths allows you to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of your operating terrain. Avalanche path maps also convey historical knowledge to newer workers at a ski area, in a guiding operation, and in the snow and avalanche industry.

Robby Young will walk you through the foundational skills of avalanche mapping in the following video.

Operational Exercise Introduction

On your Pro 2 course, you will be asked to develop a plan for a hypothetical operation. We will spend time in the field on a terrain study and will then ask you to overlay this terrain study with map study and other knowledge to develop a plan for how to develop this hypothetical operation.

The Task (during the field portion of the Pro 2): To create an avalanche atlas and operational analysis for a specific area

Purpose: To create familiarity with terrain analysis tools and to foster creative decisions for risk management of infrastructure and personnel

INTENT: The skills learned and practiced by this exercise will provide a more nuanced understanding of avalanche terrain that the avalanche professional may encounter in their career, whether it be from a mitigator’s perspective or a guides.

This video is an introduction covering our expectations surrounding the operational exercise and should prepare you well to complete this assignment.