The 8th annual MSU Snow and Avalanche Workshop was on Oct. 26, 2022 from 4:30pm-8:30pm in SUB Ballroom A!

The Montana State University Snow and Avalanche Workshop is a collaborative event free of charge for any interested attendees.  Presentations were recorded and can be viewed at this link.

Presentations will benefit attendees of all experience levels.  Join us for this incredible learning opportunity just in time for the start of the winter season!  No registration is required.

2022 Schedule: 

4:30pm-5:30pm: Vendor Hour and light refreshments


Dan Kaveney, American Avalanche Association Board Member:

Dan Kaveney will give a welcome and provide an update on A3's work in advancing their mission of "Promoting and increasing professionalism, expertise, and knowledge within the avalanche industry, for the benefit of all who work, play, or travel in avalanche country."

Matt Caires, Montana State University Dean of Students:

Matt Caires, MSU’s dean of students, will briefly recognize the history of student ski-related injuries and fatalities that he’s help to manage during his time on campus.  And, how MSU has advanced snow safety initiatives as a result of these incidents.  Matt is an avid telemark backcountry skier who cannot make alpine turns in powder or on hardpack.  His greatest joy is spending time with his family in the outdoors, stoking his four year-old daughter’s passion for skiing powder. 

Shannon Regan, Friends of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center Education Coordinator:

What areyouroptions for avalanche educationand how can you get connected?

Dave Zinn and Ian Hoyer, Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center Forecasters:

Dave will discuss the GNFAC's website and forecast products, review a selection of local avalanche terrain and avalanche accidents, and present a Case Study of a BC injury and evacuation (non-avalanche related).  Ian Hoyer will discuss characteristics of human-triggered avalanches that have occurred during low danger in southwest Montana to get us all thinking critically at the start of the season!

7:00pm-7:45pm: Research Roundup: Hear the latest research from Montana State University graduate students!

Maddie Beck: "The applications of UAVs (Drones) in monitoring and mapping snowpack characteristics"

Maddie is a Master of Science Student in the Earth Science Department studying how mountains hold water in the form of snow. She uses tools in remote sensing and meteorological modeling to quantify the amount of water stored in our mountain snowpacks. One of the main tools used to accomplish this is UAVs, better known as drones. Her work with drones has been used to map the entirety of Bridger Bowl, map ice patch characteristics on the Beartooth Plateau, view vegetation changes in Alaska, and many more. Maddie’s talk will focus on how drones can be used to give anyone interested in snow a greater understanding of snowpack characteristics.

Evan Schehrer: "Exploring Snow Crystals from Pits and Uncovering Their Secrets in the Subzero Research Laboratory"

Evan is 4th year PhD student in Materials Science working under the direction of Dr. Kevin Hammonds characterizing faceted snow crystal growth and shape using scanning electron microscopy, LiDAR, and Hyperspectral Imaging along with studying impurities in snow and how they may play a role in strength and bonding.  His PhD combines his love for snow coming from a touring background down in Southern Colorado and the physics that makes snow a challenging problem.My talk will explore faceted crystals (primarily depth/surface hoar) and the images taken from the field to what we can explore in the lab, ie why a backcountry goer might see hexagonal and square shaped depth hoar cups.

Nata de Leeuw: "WindSlabs: What, Where and Why?"

Nata is a Masters student in the Earth Science Department studying snow and avalanche sciences. Her research is on wind slab formation, with a focus on the relationship between meteorological variables and wind slab properties. She comes from a ski patrolling and ski hill forecasting background. Her talk will include how we define a wind slab, what makes wind slab avalanches difficult to predict, and what we can do to better understand them. 

8:00pm-8:30pm: Keynote Speaker: Jim Donovan: "The evolution of organized avalanche rescue in the US and the new Pro AvSAR standard"

Jim Donovan bio photo

This talk is a personal story as a rescuer responding to someone you know and then applying this experience to a broader lens in avalanche search and rescue.  Olivia Buchanan’s rescue was high risk and challenged our whole response system and had a huge impact on the Silverton community. Olivia had started at Montana State University to pursue snow science in 2011, and in January 2015, she was caught in a deadly avalanche in Silverton. This talk will delve into risk management for organized avalanche rescue and finding meaning from loss.

Jim Donovan took his first avalanche course in 1989. He has been an American Avalanche Association (A3) Professional Member since 2010. In 2016, Jim was a part of a small group of professionals that helped spur the A3 into creating the professional education and certification program for avalanche workers.   He has a life long passion for mountaineering and backcountry skiing and mountain rescue.  He is a Certified Emergency Manager for San Juan County in the State of Colorado where the avalanche hazard is the primary natural hazard that affects the county. He has published scientific research in the field of conservationbiology and has worked and played in a wide range of remote locations in mountainous regions. He serves on the Avalanche Commission for the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR) and teaches Pro AvSar and pro courses for the Silverton Avalanche School.  He has been featured in Powder Magazine's "The Human Factor 2.0" for his avalanche rescue work with the Silverton Avalanche School. He has been the Executive Director of the Silverton Avalanche School since 2009.

Questions? Email [email protected] 

Attendees will be eligible to win prizes from Backcountry Access, Black Diamond, and more!

Parking and Location Information:

The event is held in the Strand Union Building (SUB).!/

To view archived presentations of past Snow and Avalanche Workshops, please visit our SAW Archives page here: SAW Archives

Eliza Slaying

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