Avalanche hazard affect many different user groups. Traditional recreational backcountry user groups include backcountry skiers, snowmobile riders and out-of-bounds skiers. But there are also smaller groups, such as ice climbers and mountaineers, and emerging groups like snow-shoers. And then there are commercial guiding operations and professional avalanche safety operations. Each of these groups have different objectives, levels of awareness and risk management expertise.

Our objective in this research area is to advance our understanding of the motivations, attitudes and the strength and weaknesses of the risk management process of the different groups. This knowledge is critical for developing effective prevention initiatives that address existing challenges.

Research projects

Current projects

  • Creating a safe working environment in mechanized skiing operations

    What are best practices and how to describe them?

    Objective

    Short description

    Primary researcher

    Brendan Wakefield

    Related publications

    n/a

    Industrial partners

    HeliCat Canada

    Funding

    University Research Chair in Avalanche Risk Management

Relevant past projects

  • Mountain snowmobilers and avalanches

    What factors influence the avalanche information seeking of mountain snowmobilers?

    Summary

    The goals of this study were to gain a better understanding of the general characteristics of mountain snowmobilers (e.g. demographics, snowmobile characteristics, experience, training, trip details, etc.), and identify what factors affect their avalanche risk perception and how they adjust their terrain preferences in response to avalanche information using a discrete choice experiment. This study also investigated potential barriers that prevent snowmobilers from taking a formal avalanche course or checking the avalanche bulletin using the Risk Information Seeking and Processing model (RISP).

    Primary researcher

    Luke Strong-Cvetich

    Related publications

    Strong-Cvetich (2014) Mountain Snowmobilers and Avalanches: An Examination of Precautionary Behaviour. M.R.M. research project no. 586, 2014-1. School of Resource and Environmental Management. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.

    Industrial partner

    Avalanche Canada

    Funding

    Avalanche Canada‘s Mountain Snomobiling SAR-NIF grant

  • Out-of-bounds skiers and avalanches

    What out-of-bounds skiers are most at risk at getting involved in an avalanche accident?

    Summary

    The present research focuses on identifying and characterizing out-of-bounds skiers most at risk of involvement in an avalanche incident. An innovative multidimensional approach that integrates the three central dimensions of avalanche risk management (training and experience, risk mitigation practices and terrain choices) is used to assign a risk level to out-of-bounds skiers and snowboarders participating in an extensive online survey. Subsequently, high-risk and low-risk groups are compared with respect to motivations and attitudes, risk perception, sensations seeking, self-efficacy, and understanding of ski area out-of-bounds policies.

    Primary researcher

    Matt Gunn

    Related publications

    Haegeli et al. (2012) Identifying a high-risk cohort in a complex and dynamic risk environment:
    Out-of-bounds skiing—an example from avalanche safety. Prevention Science, 13(6), 562-573.

    Gunn (2010) Out of Bounds Skiers and Avalanche Risk: High-risk Cohort Identification and Characterization. M.R.M. research project no. 487, 2010-1. School of Resource and Environmental Management. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.

    Industrial partner

    Avalanche Canada

    Funding

    Avalanche Canada‘s ADFAR2 SAR-NIF grant

Recent publications

A qualitative analysis of group formation, leadership and decision making in recreation groups traveling in avalanche terrain

Journal PaperUser Groups
Benjamin Zweifel, Pascal Haegeli
Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism. 5-6, 17-26
Publication year: 2014

Accident causes and organizational culture among avalanche professionals

Journal PaperUser Groups
Jerry Johnson, Pascal Haegeli, Jordy Hendrikx, Scott Savage
Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 13, 49-56
Publication year: 2016

Click here for a complete listing of publications on this research topic.