Snow avalanches claim about 13 lives in Canada every year, more than any other natural hazard. Most victims are private backcountry recreationists (e.g., skiers, snowmobilers, mountaineers) making their own decisions, but avalanches also threaten villages, utility lines, resource operations and cause traffic hazard and economic loss by blocking highways and railways.

Avalanche research programs have traditionally primarily taken a snow science/engineering perspective, but the SFU Avalanche Research Program (SARP) aims to approach the topic of avalanche safety more broadly to better understand the interplay of all components affecting avalanche risk and develop innovative solutions for managing it more effectively.

This website provides you with access to the research portfolio of Dr. Pascal Haegeli, who holds the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Avalanche Risk Management and leads the Avalanche Research Program in the School for Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, Canada.

Want to learn about avalanches?

Our new university course in avalanche risk management is for you!
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Research Objective

Interdisciplinary research and development for improved avalanche safety

Our research interests lie at the interface between the natural and social sciences and our objective is to conduct interdisciplinary research and develop evidence-based tools that assist backcountry recreationists and avalanche professionals to make better informed decision when preparing for and travelling in avalanche terrain.

To address these challenges, we work closely with our partners in the Canadian avalanche community and employ research approaches and methods from a wide variety of fields including atmospheric science, snow science, geography, GIS, risk analysis, decision-making science, communication, psychology, sociology, accident analysis, public health and medicine.

Click here for more information on our research areas.


This website offers access to the following SARP resources:

Recent Conferences

Click here to check out our papers!

Latest Publications

Quantitative examination of terrain perception and its effect on ski run choices in expert heli-ski guides

Terrain ManagementThesis
Brendan F. Wakefield
M.R.M. research project no. 733, 2019-8. School of Resource and Environmental Management. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.
Publication year: 2019

Risk of death and major injury from natural winter hazards in helicopter and snowcat skiing in Canada

Accidents & RiskJournal Paper
Matthias Walcher, Pascal Haegeli and Sven Fuchs
Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, 30(3), 251-259. doi:10.1016/j.wem.2019.04.007
Publication year: 2019

Exploring the relationship between avalanche hazard and run list terrain choices at a helicopter skiing operation

Journal PaperTerrain Management
Reto Sterchi, Pascal Haegeli and Patrick Mair
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 19(9), 2011-2026. doi:10.5194/nhess-19-2011-2019
Publication year: 2019

Click here for a full listing of SARP publications.