Avalanche Beacon Parks: Skill Development and Group Coordination in a Technological Training Ground

Desjardins, A., Greenberg, S., Wakkary, R. and Hambelton, J. (2016)
Avalanche Beacon Parks: Skill Development and Group Coordination in a Technological Training Ground. In Proceedings of the The International Snow Science Workshop - ISSW'16. (Breckenridge, Colorado),, October 3-7. Published paper + poster presented at conference. This is a practitioner-oriented version of the academic paper.

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Abstract

Backcountry travel, including skiing, splitboarding, snowmobiling, and other methods, continues to grow in popularity and, in spite of wide spread education efforts, subjects its participants to a certain level of risk to avalanches that is difficult to completely mitigate. Use of avalanche transceivers and other rescue equipment has been shown to reduce avalanche fatalities by reducing the search time required for locating and recovering a buried traveler. In an avalanche involvement, partners in a backcountry travel group become the de facto rescue team, and must perform an efficient rescue with the tools immediately available in a practice called avalanche companion rescue. In this paper, we explore how a wireless avalanche beacon training park (a technological training ground) can support training for backcountry travelers. We conducted an observational study combined with interviews of 22 participants using a beacon park at Mount Baker Ski Area in Washington, U.S.A. In addition, we documented our reflection on our own practice of installing and modifying a beacon park in response to what we observed. Our results offer insights into how avalanche beacon training parks support 1) skill development—from familiarization with beacons to a mastery of skills in context and with complex scenarios—and 2) team coordination training—including bringing the attention beyond the beacon and identifying different roles in context. In addition, our findings point to the importance of progressive scales of difficulty, the benefit of managing different levels of fidelity (including fidelity of environment, equipment, and psychological), the value of balancing between skill development and team coordination training, and strategies for supporting the community of practice.

Keywords

Avalanche Education

Bibtex entry

@INPROCEEDINGS { 2016-AvalancheBeaconPark.ISSW,
CLASS = { POSTER },
AUTHOR = { Desjardins, A. and Greenberg, S. and Wakkary, R. and Hambelton, J. },
TITLE = { Avalanche Beacon Parks: Skill Development and Group Coordination in a Technological Training Ground },
YEAR = { 2016 },
MONTH = { October 3-7 },
ADDRESS = { Breckenridge, Colorado },
BOOKTITLE = { Proceedings of the The International Snow Science Workshop - ISSW'16 },
NOTE = { Published paper + poster presented at conference. This is a practitioner-oriented version of the academic paper },
KEYWORDS = { Avalanche Education },
}