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Chris Hopkins

Article: Complexity Decreases Situation Awareness, Increases Human Error

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Posted (edited)

Quote from article on situational awareness. Well worth a read. Job safety and Mountain safety definitely have crossover skills.

https://www.spe.org/en/print-article/?art=3129

"The Basics of Situation Awareness

Defined as the perception of elements in the environment within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future, Endsley said situation awareness is critical for effective decision making. Onsite workers with strong situation awareness can often anticipate issues that may arise with a project, or the effects of activities on safety.

“When we look at where people screw up and where they have problems doing things, they’re often doing the right decision for what they think is happening, but they have the wrong picture of what’s going on. If you want to solve this human performance with checklists and procedures, that’s great, but there’s still this whole problem of going down and understanding what’s the situation or what procedure will be employed at this time,” Endsley said."

Edited by Chris Hopkins

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, olyclimber said:

File under: Sherlock, no shit

Yea, seems Elementary.

Yet, How many times have we heard after a near miss or fatal avalanche accident that group did not see any signs of instability and the group though that they did everything right including digging a pit, and yet something was obviously missed.

Or one of the members of a bc skier group was hit by an avalanche triggered by the second skier or so skier, because they had not found an island of safety (or didn't think there was a need) in avalanche Terrain while waiting for the rest of the group to descend.

Situational awareness is a skill that needs to be practiced and good habits formed.

That would include practicing best safety protocols even while away from the mountains such as putting the phone down in the car and focusing on the critical task at hand.

 

"When we look at where people screw up....., they’re often doing the right decision for what they think is happening, but they have the wrong picture of what’s going on."

 

Edited by Chris Hopkins

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Here is a test "on the wrong picture of what's going on"

Consider the following quote from a recent online article. Is the information correct? 

https://crosscut.com/2018/04/avalanche-forecasters-grapple-deadly-season

 

"Thin lines running horizontally indicated rain storms over the last few months of winter weather that were buried in the snowpack. On the surface, skiers might know these as rain crusts that make for bad skiing. Once buried, these so-called “weak layers” might not hold when skiers or a snowmobile glide on top of them, causing the entire snowpack above to slide."

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Posted (edited)

Here is my pm to another member here discussing the linked article above. I edited for clarification.

Warning contains adult content. Check your Prejudice at the door.

This post is in no way meant to be a vendetta against mr. Scruggs or NWAC.

The Scruggs article was a puff piece, which included two significant errors.

The first one is that he reported rain crusts as being weak layers and become buried pwls.  

Raincrusts are not weak layers or considered PWLs. Raincrusts are actually very strong layers, so much so that they become bed surfaces, sliding surfaces. It is the snow layer directly above and below those crusts, depending upon Crystal type, bond strength and metamorphism factors that favor facet growth, that are considered to be pwls ( persistent weak layers).

The second error in that article is the picture of the skier standing on top of a large cornice feature. While it's true that the skier is standing back from the cornice, cornices can break further back then one might expect. 

Maybe someone should have proof read that article for him.

 

In the Scruggs article, nwac does make a valid point when asking the question of why people don't heed Avalanche warnings.

One factor that your brother and I have discussed is nwac's downplaying of the risk hazard by including such phrases as low-probability High consequence Avy triggers when discussing deep slab instability. I'd like to see them actually put a number to that low-probability, if that's their claim.

Another Factor would be the fact that nwac does not report accurately. The phrase "skier trigger"and "near Washington Pass" as described in one of their forecast discussions  is not accurate for the incident that was reported to nwac and "generically" described in their forecast discussion. nwac had the factual  information on hand for that near-miss Avalanche incident and relayed that fact to a friend of mine in an email.

The facts are that the nwac reported on their forcast "skier trigger"  which was actually  a guide partial burial.That is different from a skier trigger. That is a near-miss Avalanche incident.

 

That near-miss Avalanche incident occurred at Harts pass, not near Washington Pass as reported by nwac.

The exact location of that incident should be included in a full analysis report that would meet the standard of professionalism for reporting a near-miss Avalanche incident.

 that incident should also have been included in the annual Avalanche summary, it was not.

Why is that not being done?

Also Nwac needs to focus on why most people don't post observations.

Note that specific facts for the above discussed near-miss Avalanche incident are available upon request.

Edited by Chris Hopkins

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Posted (edited)
Quote

 

The first one is that he reported rain crusts as being weak layers and become buried pwls.  

Raincrusts are not weak layers or considered PWLs. Raincrusts are actually very strong layers, so much so that they become bed surfaces, sliding surfaces. It is the snow layer directly above and below those crusts, depending upon Crystal type, bond strength and metamorphism factors that favor facet growth, that are considered to be pwls ( persistent weak layers).

 

Unfortunately The Avalanche Handbook, Pg 67, Table 3.4:Persistent Forms lists Crusts as one of four Persistent Weak Layers (after Surface Hoar, Facets & Depth Hoar) specifically with weak bonds to snow pack. The other 3 Persistent Forms are Weak Grains which become weak layers through burial or metamorphism over time. No one disputes McClung and Schaerer on this. Some crusts are weak and have a rough surface which make them easier to bond to and break down.The Cornice image really is a reach since the person is not standing on it just too close for your comfort so the article is not the issue.

Even the Skier Trigger is a term from the Avalanche Handbook and the Snow and Weather recording Guidelines to differentiate it from a Natural Trigger. It simply refers to what triggered the avalanche not who was buried it. 

Quote
Quote

One factor that your brother and I have discussed is nwac's downplaying of the risk hazard by including such phrases as low-probability High consequence Avy triggers when discussing deep slab instability. I'd like to see them actually put a number to that

 

low-probability, if that's their claim.

Low probability high consequence is not down playing the problem, it is making clear how dangerous they are despite the difficulty in triggering them. The CAIC backs up NWAC's use of the phrase Low Probability High Consequence speaking to the treatment of the Deep Slab Problem-http://avalanche.state.co.us/forecasts/help/avalanche-problems/deep-persistent-slab/

Treatment and Avoidance

Deep Persistent Slabs are very difficult to predict and manage. They are low-probability high-consequence events. If you are caught in one, you are unlikely to survive. Often the only evidence of the problem arrives too late as a large, deadly, and unexpected avalanche. The only real effective risk management strategy is to avoid areas where you suspect a Deep Persistent Slab. They are most commonly triggered from shallow spots in the snowpack. Avoiding these areas is one way to reduce risk. Give yourself a wide safety buffer to handle the uncertainty, potentially for the remainder of the season.

Both The Avalanche Handbook and the CAIC are considered authorities that the rest of the community refers to when it comes to definitions and references. I hope that clarifies what Scruggs and NWAC are referring to and move on to the issues of reporting and transparency which are worth discussing with NWAC.

Edited by BCMatt
Quotes did not work the way I intended.

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Thanks Matt for your reply. Very refreshing.

I'm looking at my 19 93 copy of the Avalanche handbook and on page 67, I can't find that table you are referring to.

However on page 59 from my copy here's a quote.

" the influence of a crusts can significantly alter the conditions for transport and deposition of water vapor in a dry snowpack. Faceted Crystals sometimes form above crusts to produce a future serious Avalanche situation when buried by subsequent snowfall. In fact, weak bonding of snow above crusts is the most important feature of crusts with respect to Avalanche formation."

" however the presence of crusts,  since they are relatively impermeable to Vapor transport, can also allow faceted snow to grow immediately below a hard layer even when the surrounding crystals are well-rounded."

I think that is supporting evidence from that book that confirms what I'm saying that it's not the crust themselves that when buried are to be considered persistent weak layers. It is the crust-facet combination that constitutes persistent weak layers, so I maintain that the Scruggs article is misleading.

I tend to agree with the following opinion from an article in the Avalanche Review page 30. Pfd attached.

"What Makes a Crust Problematic?
In my opinion it is not about the crust 
itself, but rather what is around the 
crust. Is the crust bonded to the adjacent 
layers, or are there facets around the 
crust leading to poor bonding? The 
conditions under which the crust 
forms, and the subsequent temperature 
conditions through and around the 
crust, are critically important." 

I'll try to adress some of your other points, without violating my recent administrative warning  which restricts what  I am allowed to discuss here, but now i have to. head out for a dog ski.

Thanks again for the intelligent debate.
 

TAR3003_LoRes.pdf

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Posted (edited)

Quote from BCMatt.

"Low probability high consequence is not down playing the problem, it is making clear how dangerous they are despite the difficulty in triggering them"

 My friend, a former mountain guide and well known within the climbing community (although he doesn't promote himself), and I were having this discussion why the use of the word "low probability" downplays the risk hazard simply because it leads to confusion as to what the actual risk of triggering that  avalanche problem is from a human perception point of view. Here's an example that may lead to confusion especially to the uninformed risk taker.

 https://www.nwac.us/blog/2017/03/26/ruby-mountain-low-probability-high-consequence/

"It is extremely unlikely, if not impossible, to human trigger such an avalanche. It takes something massive (rapid snow or wind loading, huge amounts of rain, large cornice fall) to trigger such a Deep Slab"

Does the use of the word, "low probability" lead people to believe that it's nearly impossible for a  skier to trigger such an avalanche so therefore why not take the risk? What about a snowmobiler or a group of 2 or more skiers on the same slope? What's the probability now?

(We all know that a snowmobile and closely spaced skiers or even someone Landing a big jump transfers more energy to the snowpack and makes triggering  an avalanche more likely.)

Also the probability of that low probability trigger event increases with recent additional loading, so how is that probability now stated. Low probability with increased probability for trigger? And then there's what I call the domino effect trigger on a shallow slab that provides enough energy to trigger a deeper slab.

 I believe the statement  creates confusion,  especially among the uninformed  Risk Takers,  that it's nearly impossible for a skier to a deep slab instability (greater than 3 feet) yet it happens.The literature is clear that deep and persistent slab Avalanches can be triggered from shallow areas within the snowpack such as on or near rocky Terrain features.

My understanding of risk probability is that odds increase with the number of Trials.

 More and more people are exposing themselves to this Avalanche problem  as is demonstrated in that Ruby Mountain close call.

Ten years from now will we still be considering deep slab instabilities to be a low probability human triggered avalanche occurance?

This link to a skier trigger Avalanche incident a pic below.

http://avalanche.state.co.us/forecasts/help/avalanche-problems/deep-persistent-slab/

"A snowboarder triggered this Deep Persistent Slab near treeline, well down in the path."

 But maybe I'm missing something and value your input.

 

 additional reading

https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/12169021/analysis-of-the-durrand-glacier-avalanche-accident/20

 

http://nationalpost.com/how-a-massive-avalanche-changed-b-c-s-backcountry-culture-and-shattered-one-guides-life

http://arc.lib.montana.edu/snow-science/objects/issw-2006-491-497.pdf

I really like the way that K. Klassen presents information in an easy and understandable way linked below.

http://www.avalanche.ca/blogs/novemberfacetsmarchlphccycle

 

 

BpassMines21.jpg

Edited by Chris Hopkins

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skiers look to be having so much gawdamn fun all the time it seems only appropriate the Foul Lord occasionally brings the fucking hammer down on them randomly and with full ill will...

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Nothing good has ever come out of me in water.  does not matter if it is a canoeing a normal river,  inner tubing a small creek or even swimming in a damn pool.   Water is out to kill me.  snow is nothing but water waiting to kill me.  Add the patience of a mountain with the vengeance of water and it is always a dance with death.

 

Chris, on the risk prob aspect you mentioned.  they are calling a low risk high prob for the one trial, that being the day you are on the slope.  your comment of several trials can not be  calculated over many trials in the forecast.  Not sure where you are going with that concept.

not sure why you are bringing up that ruby mtn avi as an example and using that quote.  that quote was for that particular avi which was cornice initiated.  they are not saying that ALL low prob/high consequence can not be human triggered, just that particular instance.

And towards your expectation that the forecast is not specific enough for different users?  Are you suggesting that Snowmo guys putting more stress on slope need a different prediction based on their loading parameters?  How about users base their own risk knowing that they forecast is based on single person skier loading?  Maybe you are expecting too much from the NWAC?

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Chris, 

You mention your well-known guide friend and your conversation yet cite Karl Klassen in the same post, who disagree with each other. Karl, the CAIC and NWAC all use the terminology of 'Low Probability, High Consequence' because it speaks to the complexity of the problem which also includes the difficulty in predicting how and when these avalanches can be triggered. Yes, they can be triggered by another avalanche, thus the high consequence if and when they happen. Multiple industries recognize this language as something that is very dangerous and training the general public in this language starts with their first avalanche course. All level 1 courses cover this topic when discussing PWL, Deep Slabs, Persistent, Wet and Glide avalanches. 

The other danger is crying wolf, and making it sound like you can trigger a Deep Slab easily then have the credibility eroded from the forecast because no one triggers a Deep Slab. The key part of the forecast, (CAC/CAIC/NWAC etc) is to use shared messaging on these problems. Karl speaks to the complexity very well and everyone else cites Karl because of this. 

In ten years this problem will still be Low Probability because of its depth unless skiers become obese. What I believe will happen is over time the communication between BC riders, Avalanche Forecasting and other agencies will improve and prevent needless risk. Overall nationally, the avalanche fatality rate is decreasing except in WA. where we are seeing wide spread growth in all BC winter activities. This too will change as we adjust to the new load of users and improve communication and awareness as has happened in Utah and Colorado.

 

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Posted (edited)

@BCMATT

Quote: "Multiple industries recognize this language as something that is very dangerous and training the general public in this language starts with their first avalanche course. "

This is exactly the point of why my friend and I were discussing the use of the term low probability.

I don't think that we are at odds with what Karl states so eloquently.

So how do we get everyone on the same page? What are the challenges?

I have some ideas. I'll give one but  most likely it will be controversial  and I'll get accused of promoting a granny state and be banned from the planet :D, but here goes.

I wrote a letter to the Forest Service where I proposed a permit system for winter time Backcountry access to publically owned land.

 In order to receive a permit some sort of educational or experience standard would  be required.

Education  is where I believe that commercial guides play a big role. But that requires full disclosure and analysis of safety records, transparency, and accountability in order to encourage trust. It's time to stop playing games where Public Safety is concerned.

A permit system is not so far fetched as far as safety concerns go  because many Industries and associations require a certification standard.

For example I was required to become a certified diver before I could purchase compressed air to fill my scuba tanks. There was a lot of course time involved in order to receive that certification, way more than an Avy 1 course.

It's  not just the individual who's at risk when bad safety habits are practiced.

Individuals or group decisions, including commercially guided trips,  often can have a negitive impact upon risk exposure experienced by other groups.

 I have other ideas but would like to hear  other input on this issue.  For example in the rock climbing world,  how do you keep climbers from dropping rocks on each other's heads.

 Once again thanks for having this civil discussion here because I believe that communication is key to understanding.

issw-2000-037-045.pdf

Edited by Chris Hopkins

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If Republicans stay in power then the Forest Service will be privatized then corporations will be happy to oblige. Right now the USFS is underfunded to enforce this system and yet it could work like a parking pass for winter access. 

There is more at work than education, evolving understanding of terrain and decision making are helping improve communication and hopefully will improve safety over time.

Statistically professional groups make up less than 10% of fatalities in the last 30 years. Hikers and Climbers are about half of all fatalities in WA in that time with a large number of the accidents re-occuring in specific areas such as Granite Mt/Source Lake-Snoqualmie Pass & DC -Mt Rainier.

Overcrowding in some areas and growing use in new areas is something we all need to work on. Intergroup communication is one area we can all improve on.

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What happened to the "how to remove tar and feathers" post? 

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Bronco, it got moved to the trash can because the Admin's didn't want to host any salacious screeds about other sites or be providing a platform for Chris' ongoing battle with sites he'd been banned from. Personally, I'd have shitcanned it just for quoting Dave Matthews' lyrics.

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must.....not....post.....dave ....matthews ....lyrics....

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4 hours ago, Off_White said:

Bronco, it got moved to the trash can because the Admin's didn't want to host any salacious screeds about other sites or be providing a platform for Chris' ongoing battle with sites he'd been banned from. Personally, I'd have shitcanned it just for quoting Dave Matthews' lyrics.

Ok, I was curious if the Chris Hopkins experiment was over yet and noticed the thread was gone.  

I'm wondering if he can figure out how Fred is involved in the USFS/NWAC/Paid Guide/wealthy site admin conspiracy. 

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  • That's funny! 2

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once almost got in besodden fist fight in a charlottesville bar w/ ole dave, many, many drunken nights n' wierd fuck'n days ago :) 

funny thing was i had no idea who dave mathews was at the time...

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