Avalanche educators grapple with social media’s influence on backcountry travelers’ decision making | AspenTimes.com

Avalanche educators grapple with social media’s influence on backcountry travelers’ decision making

Scott Toepfer makes his way towards the debris field and site of the avalanche at Sheep Creek near Loveland Pass on Sunday, April 21, 2013. He and two other members of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center carefully deconstructed the area of the avalanche that killed 5 snowboarders.
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post | 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.

Read the rest of this story at http://www.denverpost.com.

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