The conference assembled both professionals and private volunteers, from both Norway and abroad, to exciting lectures and intensive discussions. Over 200 participants heard presentations about how to managing avalanche risk against roads, NVEs (Norway's avalanche authority) regional avalanche alerts, rescue and how to choose safe routes, etc.
The human factor
An important aspect in connection with outdoor activity and avalanche accidents is "the human factor". Why do so many people take bad decisions when out in the terrain, when they actually know better? Many presentations discussed this subject.
At the University of Tromsø, a Center for Avalanche Research and Education (CARE) has been established, and they work with such questions, among others. Some personal stories from avalanche accidents were also presented at the conference. Both from skiing events, and from the tragic avalanche accident in Svalbard in 2015.
Research and scientific evaluations
Over the last decade, the number of people working professionally on avalanche related topics in Norway has increased drastically. NGI is no longer alone in Norway within this field. NGI still does research related to avalanches, both on conditions that lead to avalanches, run-out distance, danger zone mapping and practical mitigation methods against avalanches.
At the Avalanche Conference in Åndalsnes NGI presented four lectures with examples from results of NGI's work:
- How rare and extreme are so-called "extreme" Avalanches?
- The prevention of avalanche accidents – do we need more knowledge and information, or less risk-taking?
- Improved methodology for caution mapping.
- Dissemination of uncertainty in avalanche risk assessment.
The Avalanche Conference was originally founded by the Red Cross, DNT (The Norwegian Trekking Association), FriFlyt (Norwegian steep terrain magazine) and NGI, and is held bi-annually by a local technical organizer. The conference this year was organized by the Mountaineering Museum in Åndalsnes.
Norwegian Avalanche Professional Association
The "Norwegian Avalanche Association" was established in conjunction with the conference this year. The new Association has about 80 professional members who all work with avalanches in one form or another. NGI's Ulrik Domaas was a member of the Interim Board of the Association, and is now elected Deputy member of the Board of Directors.