Guest Speakers

Bruce Jamieson

How Risky is Ski Cutting?

Although skiers have been intentionally triggering avalanches, i.e. ski cutting, for at least 90 years, the risk from ski cutting has – until this year – been unknown. In spring 2019, Bruce and four others conducted a survey of avalanche practitioners in the US, Canada and New Zealand. This talk will summarize the results of the survey, including the first estimates of the risk of injury and death due to ski cutting. Although the risk estimates are only applicable to avalanche practitioners, Bruce will summarize the ski cutting techniques that practitioners use to reduce their risk and lead a discussion on the practicality of these techniques for backcountry recreationists.

Bruce Jamieson started on the pro patrol at the Fernie ski area in 1980. After six winters of avalanche work at ski areas, he started graduate studies at the University of Calgary, focusing on field studies of avalanches including snowpack tests. As a professor of Civil Engineering from 1997 to 2015, Bruce managed field-based research on snow and avalanches. The research program attracted a remarkable team of avalanche research technicians and graduate students, who had their heads and hands in the snow daily. Now, when not sliding on snow or riding a two-wheeler on dirt trails, he works as an avalanche consultant and educator.