by Jane Mauser
In October I represented Mountain Safety Research at the 2013 International Snow Science Workshop in Grenoble, France. MSR has been a contributing sponsor of the ISSW for the past two years. A handful of MSR employees attend the workshop to learn more about snow science, share products relevant to snow travel and rescue, and build on our relationships in the snow safety community.
This year’s event brought an impressive turn-out of snow science professionals from all over the world. There are seems to be new avalanche forecast and education centers popping up around the globe and many of them were represented at ISSW. My personal interest is in communication and education of snow safety, so I gravitated toward those posters, abstracts and presentations. It was great to see so many presentations promoting education and communication through a more practical application of snow science. I also attended a couple presentations on managing snow and the impact of climate change.
As with any great avalanche awareness gathering, we spent some time in the field observing conditions. It wasn’t long before our tram was above the cloud layer and we were taking in the view of Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Alps a number of times in my career, but I can never get enough of them – it’s always inspiring! At the top of the Aiguille du Midi we stopped to discuss the seracs on the north face of Mont Blanc. Local mountain rescue specialists explained the hazards surrounding these seracs and outlined the avalanche paths that lead into the town of Chamonix, below.
At the end of each day MSR sponsored a Social Hour with local beer and reusable glasses. It was an opportunity for snow professionals from around the world to connect and share knowledge from their respective regions. It was also our opportunity to show the professionals at ISSW how much we appreciate their work.
MSR has taken an active interest in snow travel and science since the company’s founding in 1969. Our first products were snow flukes, ice screws, pickets and ice axes. We continue to make gear used by rescue organizations around the world. Today, we are proud to be contributing sponsors of the ISSW, the National Ski Patrol and the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center. We also offer product sponsorships to mountain professionals around the world – including forecasters, ski patrollers, guides, explorers, rescuers and members of the American Avalanche Association. MSR will continue to support these groups, and we hope to work with more organizations in the future.
If you travel in avalanche terrain, we recommend you utilize and support your local weather forecast and avalanche organizations. Whether you’re on skis, snowshoes or a splitboard, these people are providing valuable information that makes your trip safer. And if you’re attending 2014’s ISSW in Banff stop by and say hello, we’ll be there!
Jane Mauser worked for RECCO and Helly Hansen before joining MSR as Marketing Director of Winter products. For ten years Jane was a professional big mountain snowboarder on the Burton team. She placed second at Alaska’s King of the Hill extreme snowboarding championships in 1995, and survived a class 4 avalanche in the Waddington Range in 1998. Today, she ski tours and snowboards in the PNW backcountry as much as she can. Her French is très magnifique.