4 Search Results for ""bob comey""
- From: brodyleven
Photo: Utah Avalanche Center
The fifth annual Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop celebrated the coalescing of mindsets and the changing of seasons. With presentations by some of the most prolific minds in North American snow science, backcountry users from across the region descended on a Salt Lake City expo center to discuss, listen, and learn from experts and each other.
The public afternoon session rocketed to 650 attendees, filling the conference center with experience, curiosity, and GORE-TEX. All discussions centered around the day’s focus: avalanche safety and awareness. It kicked off with the 2011-12 Utah Backcountry Review.
Events such as USAW represent the coming together of a community to enjoy the spread of information. While backcountry skiing is largely a solitary activity, it’s rare to have knowledge shared among people who often pride themselves on knowledge secrecy. But not everyone goes to the International Snow Science Workshop, so these events are a great way to share information from larger workshops and experiences.
Utah Avalanche Center forecaster, event mastermind and master of ceremonies, Craig Gordon, summarized the day: “It was chock full of lifesaving information attracting attendees from Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. We have an awesome snow and avalanche community with so much experience and knowledge to share. I couldn’t be more stoked to bring everyone together and hopefully share stories that impact people’s decision making, ultimately saving lives.”
Utah’s Alta Ski Area was the site of North America’s first avalanche-control artillery fire, and the Wasatch mountains have been a Mecca for snow safety ever since. As a hub of snow science, it’s clear why the USAW region has expanded, with visiting presenters such as Montana’s Pete Maleski, Idaho’s Chantel Astorga, and Wyoming’s Bob Comey, and booths by two-dozen backcountry ski equipment exhibitors. But Utah isn’t alone, with similar symposiums being held in the Pacific Northwest, Montana, Colorado, and New Hampshire.
Videos, presentations, slideshows, panels and discussions exemplify what the backcountry ski/snowboard/snowmobile/rescue communities can contribute to one another. The sharing of information, in an open environment, is crucial to the advancement of snow science. At events such as this, judgment is withheld and questions are encouraged for the sake of education.
“USAW brings avalanche professionals and high-end backcountry users together for a day of informative, well-rounded, and easily digestible avalanche presentations,” Gordon said.
Aside from how frequently TGR was mentioned as an excellent tool to disperse information to a large audience, avalanches are the last things many of us want to think about during the final days of fall. But events like the Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop are the safest and best time to cover the most important topic of our winter: staying alive.
- Blog post
- 5 months ago
- Views: 111
- Not yet rated
- From: media-75233
November 29, 2011
Jackson, Wyoming — Outerlocal.com, a social media website for adventure athletes, announced the creation of a unique program for the 2011-2012 winter season in the Tetons.
In collaboration with Backcountry Access and Outdoor Research, as well as key partners on either side of the Tetons, Outerlocal’s “Are You Beeping?” program will confirm the presence of an avalanche beacon’s transmission signal at backcountry access points throughout the range, including Jackson Hole Mountain Resort; Teton Pass; Grand Targhee; and Grand Teton National Park.
Each checkpoint will feature a large sign that asks, “ARE YOU BEEPING?” The sign will instruct travelers to pass the checkpoint one at a time. Underneath the sign, a BCA Beacon Checker will check the presence of a transmit signal. A positive indication on the Checker—a green “O”—will confirm the presence of the signal. A red “X” will display if a transmit signal is not detected.
The program will be presented for the first time on Thursday, December 1, during the Avalanche Awareness Night, from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. in the Grand Teton Room at the Snow King Resort.
The idea for such a program arose for Outerlocal founder Christian Beckwith last winter. Beckwith, a longtime Valley resident who has made numerous first descents in the Tetons, had just completed a technical descent of Teewinot Mountain. He went to turn off his beacon at the mountain’s base—only to discover that he had never turned it on.
“We had left the car at three or four in the morning,” Beckwith recalls. “Maybe it was the lack of sleep, or maybe it was the conversation about whether to bring a rope—but I simply forgot to turn my beacon on. The Are You Beeping program will help backcountry travelers avoid similar mistakes.”
Forgetting to turn on one’s beacon is an error that can prove fatal in the event of an avalanche. If a skier is buried in an avalanche without a transmitting beacon, his or her chances of being rescued by partners is extremely compromised.
But as a veteran mountaineer who has witnessed multiple “launch” scenarios on any given day, Beckwith suggests that it’s not as rare a mistake as one might think.
“You get out of the car at the top of the Pass and it’s nuking and all you want to do is get your pack on and get out of there. Or you bump into a friend at the Village and she suggests a quick Four Pines and next thing you know you’re exiting the gate. Sometimes you just forget.”
Beckwith began work on the program this autumn. First, he contacted a number of avalanche beacon manufacturers. Though many expressed interest, Backcountry Access (“BCA”) quickly distinguished themselves by offering to donate twelve Beacon Checkers. BCA’s Tracker 2 avalanche beacons are already used exclusively by the Jackson Hole Ski Patrol, “so going with them was an easy decision,” said Beckwith.
The next step was figuring out how to pay for the checkpoint signs and power sources. Beckwith had climbed the Cathedral Traverse and skied the Grand Teton with Dan Nordstrom, the owner of Outdoor Research. The Seattle-based clothing company has exploded under Nordstrom’s leadership as he brought his passion for alpinism to a product line he uses on all his adventures. Nordstrom, who loves the Tetons, quickly agreed to have Outdoor Research underwrite the additional costs.
Ray Spencer at the United States Forest Service and Bob Comey at the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center were also instrumental in making the checkpoints a reality. Spencer is the USFS’s winter sports administrator for the Tetons, and his appreciation of the checkpoints’ value facilitated their implementation on Forest Service lands.
As the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center’s chief avalanche forecaster, Comey spends every workday focused on making backcountry travel safer for Teton skiers. He helped Beckwith figure out power sources for the Beacon Checkers, coordinated conversations with representatives at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and helped work through key logistical issues.
Scott Guenther, chief climbing ranger at Grand Teton National Park; Jake Elkins, Jon Bishop and Tim Mason at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort; and Ken Rider and Joe Calder at Grand Targhee all participated in making the checkpoints a reality as well.
Beckwith points out that while the checkpoints will help remind backcountry travelers to turn on their beacons, they will serve as an advisory only. The checkpoints can confirm transmission signals at the moment a traveler passes them, but they do not test a beacon’s battery life, and there is no guarantee that the beacons will function later in time. There is also no guarantee that a beacon is receiving. Ultimately, such considerations are the sole responsibility of the backcountry traveler.
“Anyone interested in backcountry travel needs to take an avalanche safety course before entering the backcountry,” said Beckwith. In addition to receiving proper training, travelers must always carry probes and shovels as well as beacons in the backcountry, and be accompanied by a partner who knows how to use them. And checking the day’s avalanche forecast before embarking on a backcountry adventure is a prerequisite.
But Beckwith hopes the checkpoints will help backcountry travelers avoid the fundamental mistake he made that day on Teewinot.
“People should think about their avalanche beacons the way they think about their underwear,” he said. “Put ‘em on before the start of any backcountry adventure.”
And, he added, “These checkpoints will help remind you to turn them on, too.”
- Blog post
- 2 years ago
- Views: 705
- Not yet rated
- From: SamPetri
November 28, 2011
It's game on in the Tetons. We're finally skiing, busting out laps at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. You can almost hear the collective steam release from each person's personal pressure valve. That may sound dirty, but it's true. Sliding on snow changes your state of mind. Everyone's a bit more positive around here. Everyone's a bit calmer. People are smiling. The Village Cafe is serving slices again and people are apres skiing just a few hundred feet from this office right now. It's Monday. Fuck yeah.
JHMR made this video to kick off the season. As you probably read on every other ski blog, La Nina is back. And that means big snow for the West this winter season. Right now, there's not a ton of snow, but there is enough coverage that the resort opened with 3,000 vertical feet of terrain, or to the top of Thunder Chairlift.
Watch as JHMR athletes Adam Dowell and Lynsey Dyer sample the goods early and Jim Woodmencey of Mountainweather.com confirms that we're set for some solid precipitation in the Tetons. Bridger-Teton National Forest lead avalanche forecaster Bob Comey briefs the ski patrol and electronic duo Javelin provides the magical vibe at the end with the song "Lindsay Brohan." Can't wait to see how this season plays out.
— Sam Petri
- Blog post
- 2 years ago
- Views: 982
- From: griffinpost
In this file photo, surface hoar forms on top of an early-season snowpack on Teton Pass in Wyoming.
October 5, 2011
— Griffin Post
I don’t want it to snow. The statement is nothing short of sacrilegious for skiers, but it’s true. As hyped up as people get around this time of year, snow this early can cause serious problems down the road in terms of the snowpack quality. Why? It all comes down to the fact that the earlier it snows, the more likely the development of persistent weak layers becomes. While I was generally familiar with this principal, I enlisted the help of Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center Director Bob Comey and Teton Gravity Research’s lead guide Kent Scheler to get a better grip on the downside of October snow.
As I found out, problems with early-season snow stem from two areas: the creation of depth hoar and the development of a hard crust that will eventually be buried deep in the snow pack.
First, the depth hoar.
The earlier it snows, the more probable depth hoar formation becomes. These conditions exist due to the generally thin nature of early-season snowpack — less than 3 feet — and the likelihood of cold snaps.
“If a thin pack is proceeded by a cold trend, there is less insulation to shield base layers from extreme temperature difference [gradient] that exist at the warm earth-cold air interface,” Scheler said. “Depth hoar forms at the base of the snowpack due to the upward movement of water vapor resulting from the extreme temperature gradient in this zone,” he said.
The longer a thin snowpack is on the ground — uninsulated by more snow — the more likely depth hoar will form.
The second scenario has to do with the development of a hard crust that can form after a prolonged dry period following the first snowfall. This hard crust creates a surface for weak layers to form on (i.e. surface hoar) that subsequently become buried deep in the snowpack.
Surface hoar crystals.
“The worst case is that you get a hard crust, some light density snow and a prolonged cold period, resulting in a persistent weak layer,” Comey said.
Once again, the likelihood of this scenario developing is proportionate to the length of time the early season snowpack is on the ground.
So, is October snow the end of the world? No, not at all. It really all depends on what happens next. Despite these weak layers, if the “next storm system can come in super warm and heal it,” the snowpack will stabilize, Comey said. However, if the storm “Comes in slow and backs off, you may never get rid of [the weak layer],” Comey said. “What’s dangerous about [this scenario] is that you don’t know what’s dangerous — it’s really hard to manage.”
What’s the ideal snowpack formation then?
“It starts snowing November 1 and keeps snowing a little everyday without any clear, cold nights that could create surface hoar or extended dry periods,” Comey said.
These conditions would help prevent both the formation of depth hoar and a hard crust for weak layers to from on.
It’s not that early-season snow is the end of the world, it’s just that the longer the snowpack is on the ground, the more susceptible it is to the above weather conditions, that could result in persistent weak layers. The development of these weak layers isn’t a guarantee, but it is something to keep in mind before you do a snow dance this October. More important than anything, when it does snow, pay attention to weather patterns afterward, as the formation of these weak layers is by no means limited to the timing of the snowfall.
- Blog post
- 2 years ago
- Views: 4578
- Not yet rated