Mad Men: Drew Hardesty on the past, present and future of the Utah Avalanche Center

Utah Avalanche Center forecaster Drew Hardesty reflects on connecting with backcountry skiers and riders in a constantly changing medium.

Mountain Skills: Understanding ‘The Avalanche Problem’

Two winters ago, a party of self-described expert skiers and snowboarders exited a ski area to center punch a very steep and committing untracked bowl of almost thigh-deep powder. It was bluebird, and the stoke was high. Most of the party had been through a Level 1 avalanche class; they had checked the forecast—Moderate—dug a pit and made a plan to ski one at a time. Then, they watched with horror as the first skier threw in a ski cut that triggered an avalanche two- to four-feet deep and 600-feet wide.