The role of avalanche education in assessing and judging avalanche risk factors

Authors

  • Markus Landrø Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, Norway
  • Rune Engeset UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway; Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, Norway
  • Gerit Pfuhl UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway
DOI: https://doi.org/10.23865/jased.v6.2977

Abstract

Avalanche decision-making falls into two general categories; probabilistic approaches and analytical approaches. Analytical approaches have traditionally been considered applicable to experts only, as they require assessing risk factors precisely and understanding their relevance in each situation. In this study we question this assumption. We asked 1,220 amateur backcountry recreationalists how relevant they rated and how precisely they could assess 11 avalanche risk factors. We investigated how their avalanche education and experience with avalanche incidents influenced their judgment of precision and relevance, and if avalanches become more predictable with more knowledge. Most recreationalists considered avalanches as predictable. These five factors were judged as highly relevant: signs of instability, distinguishing avalanche terrain from non-avalanche terrain, slope inclination, terrain traps, and distribution of weak layers. Relevance was independent of avalanche education and experience of incidents for all factors but danger level. Amateur recreationalists rated the relevance of the factors like that of experts. Rating of precision increased with more avalanche education, in particularly for these factors: distribution of the weak layers, terrain traps, avalanche size, recognizing avalanche terrain and stopping at safe spots. We recommend adopting an analytical approach for amateur backcountry recreationalists and discuss implications for avalanche forecasting and education.

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Published

2022-07-07

How to Cite

Landrø, M., Engeset, R., & Pfuhl, G. (2022). The role of avalanche education in assessing and judging avalanche risk factors. Journal for Research in Arts and Sports Education, 6(2). https://doi.org/10.23865/jased.v6.2977

Issue

Section

Research Articles: Special issue

Categories

Keywords:

outdoor, outdoor risk, avalanche prevention, risk management, avalanche education, decision making