10th Annual Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop (Open Session)



**USAW 2017 is Sold Out. Tickets will not be available for purchase at the door**



Join us for the 10th annual USAW, where Utah’s avalanche community will team up with snow professionals from around the west to share avalanche knowledge. Regional avalanche workshops are the most time and cost effective way to build and refresh advanced avalanche skills available. This is your chance to brush up your skills, learn from from avalanche experts, and brush up your skills before the start of the season.

This is a high-level continuing education opportunity meant to give the avalanche community access to the latest and greatest information. This is the only avalanche workshop in Utah addressing snow science, decision-making, the changing backcountry, and lessons learned from recent accidents. 

You’ll learn from and network with forecasters, patrollers, snow scientists, highway avalanche crews, search & rescue personnel, mountain guides, ski industry manufacturers, backcountry skiers & snowboarders, snowmobilers, avalanche researchers, and more.  The format will be 15 minute presentations followed by Q&A. There will be sponsor booths with the latest gear and gear give-aways.

Preregistration closes on Thursday, November 2nd at noon. After that, you can get tickets for $45 at the door. Lunch, coffee/beverage service, and post workshop happy hour is included.

Note that a Blaster's clinic will be held from 8-10 am.  Participation is limited to those employed in explosive mitigation, such as resort snow safety and ski patrol, DOT, mitigation contractors, explosives manufacturers, Forest Service military weapons personnel, etc. Details and registration hereIf you sign up for the Blasters Clinic, you are signed up for the whole day and don't need to sign up for the rest of the day on this page.

There will be a 2nd 8-10am session focused on snowmobiler and snowbiker issues. This will be free to all but we ask that you preregister here.

There will be a Avalanche Risk Assessment and Mitigation Clinic on Sunday morning, Nov 5, at Snowbird for those employed assessing, mitigating, and communicating avalanche risk.  Details and registration here.


  • 09:15-10:00 Open registration
  • 10:00-10:05 Welcome

    (Changing climate… changing snowpack)

  • 10:05-10:20 Utah Winter Review 2016-17A video narrative recounting the 2016-17 winter.

  • 10:25-10:45 Birthday Chutes Avalanche - A first hand account of surviving a massive avalanche and searching for your partner- Sam Kapacinskas

  • 10:50-11:10 Adjusting to a different snowpack in the Salt Lake Mountains- How a warm, wet winter created a coastal snowpack in many regions while Alta’s snowpack retained intermountain characteristics-Ty Falk

  • 11:15-11:35 Peruvian Protection at Snowbird- Managing slide paths with expensive infrastructure and high volumes of people just below​. Chris Bremmer- Snowbird

  • 11:40-12:00 UDOT Highway Avalanche Safety Program- Balancing The Threat To The Roads With A Growing Demand For Backcountry Recreation- Bill Nalli/UDOT​

    12:00-13:00 Lunch

  • 13:00-17:00 Afternoon session 

  • 13:00-13:05 Welcome to the Afternoon Session-

    (Recreate like a professional)

  • 13:05-13:25 Do backcountry travelers really need checklists?-  This talk addresses the complex nature of decision-making, a variety of factors to track, and thoughts on how to build systems for beginners and experienced travelers alike- Sarah Carpenter- AAI

  • 13:30-13:50 Looking at snow patterns like a pro- Understanding spatial variability- Dr. Ben Reuter, IFMGA Mountain Guide, Research Scientist at Montana State University

  • 13:55-14:15 Thinking about the snow like a pro- Instability and stabilization after storms- Dr. Karl Birkeland, Director, Forest Service National Avalanche Center

  • 14:20-14:40 Being Human: Going Deeper, Finding the Goods and Building Our Own Mountain Ethic- Using the “human factor” to keep us alive in avalanche terrain. Nancy Bockino- Teton County Search and Rescue, Exum Mountain Guides, AIARE Trainer, AAA Pro Trainer, and Winter Ops Manager for Jackson Hole Outdoor Leadership Institute

  • 14:45-15:05 “Where’s Your Partner?”- A look at current trends and an alarming number of  “solo” avalanche deaths in recent years- Evelyn Lees- Utah Avalanche Center

    15:05-15:20 Break

    Afternoon session continued-

    (Decision making… for the past, present and future)

  • 15:25-15:45 Fast Times and Big Lines- A La Sal Mountain Primer- Eric Trenbeth- Utah Avalanche Center

  • 15:50-16:10 The Dogma of the Forecast- Why we can get surprised when the forecast matches reality- Jimmy Tart

  • 16:15-16:35 The White Heat Project- The aim of the White Heat project is to generate new knowledge on mechanisms behind risk-taking behavior in avalanche terrain- Dr. Jerry Johnson and Dr. Jordy Hendrikx

  • 16:40-17:00 Advice to my younger self- A personal reflection on the role mentors played over my 48 years as an avalanche professional and what I would tell a 25 year old version of myself now- Liam Fitzgerald

  • 17:00-18:00 Social sponsored by Alpine Collective and Moab Brewery .... Woo-hoo!

** If you are registering for more than one person please include their name(s) in the comment section while checking out**


USAW 2017 is brought to you by generous donations from our sponsors:




**Open Session is Sold Out. Motorized Clinic spots are still available**

Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 10:00am


Highway 210, Little Cottonwood Canyon
Snowbird, UT 84092