Report Fron Sawtooth Avalanche Center
Erich Peitzsch, a doctoral student at Montana State University and researcher for the United States Geological Survey, sought to explore the question, “how old are the people that die in avalanches?” Erich’s research was inspired by a hunch that the average age of avalanche victims is increasing. During his talk, Erich showed that this is, in fact, the case. The average age of avalanche victims has increased from 27.6 years old between 1950-1989 to 34.3 from 1990-2018. The average age of fatalities among avalanche professionals was shown to be even higher at 37.7 years.
The Sawtooth Avalanche Center (SAC) hosted its annual Professional Development Seminar in Ketchum, Idaho on April 11th. Nearly 40 professionals, including ski guides, forecasters, snow safety workers, search and rescue personnel, researchers, and USFS staff attended the event. In its 12th consecutive year, presentations covered snowpack and streamflow modeling, a case study of a local avalanche cycle, changing trends in the age of avalanche victims, using tree rings to track widespread avalanche cycles, and two talks to help us better understand how we make decisions.