If you didn’t see it when it came out a few months ago, you really need to take an hour or two and read Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek by John Branch of The New York Times. Not only is it a presented effectively, with audio and video nicely incorporated into the article (in a non-intrusive way), but  it’s just a great read and really interesting if you like to think about how people get themselves in trouble while recreating outdoors. In this case, a group of experienced, skilled, and (mostly) well equipped backcountry skiers went out for a quick backcountry ski, with tragic results. Even if you’re not a backcountry skier (I’m not), this story contains a lot of lessons about communications and decision making within groups. I found this article especially interesting because I’ve been involved with preventive search and rescue work the last few years, and especially this past year, when we started up a preventive search and rescue blog. I’ve been working with the amazing YOSAR staff to try to figure out how to more effectively communicate search-and-rescue-related safety messages (which, after all, is very similar to trying to more effectively communicate wildlife & food storage messages, which I’ve been doing for many years). So, anytime there’s a story like this one, I think of it through the “how did these people come to this decision?” mindset. Our last post of the season contains some of the lessons learned in 2012, including links to all of this year’s posts. (Disclaimer: our posts aren’t as well written or as interesting as Snow Fall is!)

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