California Avalanche Workshop public event Saturday at Lake Tahoe Community College |

California Avalanche Workshop public event Saturday at Lake Tahoe Community College

Sebastian Foltz
Avalanche Warning Sign Whistler
Getty Images/Ingram Publishing | Ingram Publishing


WHAT: 2015 California Avalanche Workshop

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 17, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

WHERE: Lake Tahoe Community College Theater

COST: $20 per person


The second annual California Avalanche Workshop returns to Lake Tahoe Community College Saturday, Oct. 17, as part of an effort to promote backcountry travel awareness. The all-day event, inspired by avalanche awareness and snow-science workshops in other mountain regions, is open to the public. It will feature eight speakers discussing a variety of backcountry topics.

“It’s an awesome opportunity for continuing education,” said David Reichel, event organizer and community college wilderness education coordinator. “I do think a lot of the public doesn’t understand the risk.”

The program is geared toward anyone interested in avalanche danger and backcountry travel topics. Speakers will present new information regarding avalanche safety as well as first-hand accounts from incidents. The workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the LTCC Theater and it will include a post-event social with beer supplied by Cold Water Brewery. Tickets are $20 and can be registered for online at or in person the day of the event.

“There’s not that many opportunities for backcountry skiers (snowboarders and snowmobilers) to get together,” Reichel said of part of the inspiration for the event.

Speakers at Saturday’s workshop will include David Page, a contributor to Los Angeles Times Magazine, Men’s Journal, Powder, The New York Times and Outside Magazine, along with other publications. Page recently authored “The Human Factor,” an avalanche story for Powder Magazine that was a National Magazine Award Finalist for 2015.

National Weather Service forecaster Zach Tolby will discuss the upcoming El Niño predictions and what it could mean for the Sierras.

Longtime Tahoe backcountry skier Jon Rockwood will present his account of the 2012 Ward Creek avalanche.

Nine-time X Games snowboard medalist Kevin Jones will also share experiences of his 25 years in backcountry travel.

Additional presenters will discuss other weather and avalanche forecasting topics, as well as innovations in avalanche safety gear and education.

“The snow science and avalanche science is changing quickly,” Sierra Nevada avalanche forecaster Andy Anderson said. “Workshops like this are a great way to get information out.”

He echoed Reichel’s notion that the workshop is geared towards backcountry experts and novices alike.

“Everyone should be able to get something out of it,” he said.

Snow Sports Industries America — the trade association that monitors ski and snowboard industry sales and trends — annually reports that backcountry gear is one of the fastest growing areas of the ski and snowboard industry.

That’s some cause for concern among those promoting avalanche education programs.

“Anecdotally we’ve seen incredible growth (of backcountry travel) in the last 10 years,” Anderson said. “I would hope to see the same increase in the number of people taking avalanche classes.”

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