SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. (January 16, 2013)--As more people are head into the backcountry, avalanche educators are finding new ways to help the outdoor recreationists stay alive in avalanche-prone terrain.
While backcountry safety education once stressed the mechanics of avalanches and snow science, training courses now incorporate a focus on human factors such as how to make better decisions, manage group dynamics and speak up should danger arise.
The avalanche educators are borrowing an approach pilots use to communicate to help backcountry enthusiasts make better decisions.
Nationwide, 34 skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers, climbers and hikers died in avalanches during the 2011-12 winter season.
Already this season, four people have died, including a 37-year-old man who was killed Sunday in Colorado.
Experts say human factors such as lack of communication and social pressure play a role in some of these fatalities.