Avalanche educators grapple with social media’s influence on backcountry travelers’ decision making
The Denver Post
BRECKENRIDGE — Emery Rheam’s video showed teenagers spinning backflips into deep powder blanketing an avalanche starting zone on Teton Pass in Wyoming.
The thousand people watching in the Breckenridge conference center — snow scientists and guides gathered last week for the annual International Snow Science Workshop — winced, shook their heads and grumbled.
Those kids, Rheam said, raced down the slope and posted their exploits online, feeding a game of one-upmanship that puts them in competition not just with each other, but the entire internet. It’s a scenario that plays out on social feeds, but has real-life consequences that worry avalanche forecasters and educators.
It’s too easy for an older generation to pooh-pooh social media. That’s especially common among graying avalanche forecasters and educators who often sit in judgment of what they see in movies and on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
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Mountain Rescue Aspen is expanding its education efforts to try to keep people safe in the backcountry during winters and summers. It will host a workshop on Dec. 8 titled, “How to Plan a Backcountry Tour.”