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Author Topic: NWAC's use of paid observers  (Read 1288 times)
Heli-Free North Cascades
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NWAC's use of paid observers
« on: 02/06/18, 10:28 AM »

Admin. note: This post has been moved here at the request of Heli Free North Cascades. It consists of HFNC's posts in two different threads and has been moved and consolidated by TAY moderators.

I've long advocated here on TAY that we should all be reporting near-miss avalanche incidents. I've also suggested that when guide outfitters are involved in near-miss avalanche incidents that they receive the same scrutiny and analysis that is very often carried out for recreational near-miss incidents by NWAC paid personnel. I believe that incidents involving guides are treated differently.

Is there a double standard operating here?

Are NWAC and the Forest Service so entangled with their commercial corporate partners, who operate on public land, that the best interest of public safety and knowledge is not being served?

It is my opinion that NWAC and the Forest Service should operate with complete transparency, which includes the accurate reporting of near-miss avalanche incidents.

I also want to correct a common misconception. While nwac does have a non-profit branch that holds fundraisers and funnels that money to the guide Outfitters in various ways, nwac is indeed a part of the Forest Service. Forecasters are Forest Service employees.

https://www.nwac.us/about/about-us/
« Last Edit: 02/11/18, 12:25 PM by Micah » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
Lowell_Skoog
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #1 on: 02/06/18, 08:52 PM »

I just want to correct a common misconception. While nwac does have a non-profit branch that holds fundraisers and funnels that money to the guide Outfitters in various ways....

The "guide Outfitters" at the end of the funnel would be the NWAC observers. Everyone I've talked to seems to think the observers perform a valuable service for the backcountry community.
« Last Edit: 02/11/18, 11:57 AM by Micah » Logged
Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #2 on: 02/07/18, 09:01 AM »

The "guide Outfitters" at the end of the funnel would be the NWAC observers. Everyone I've talked to seems to think the observers perform a valuable service for the backcountry community.

I agree with you Lowell. However should observations be a commodity?

Or should observations be something we all routinely  report because we're good citizens of the backcountry?

Or should it be part of requirement for a special-use permit?

According to the 2003 environmental assessment for NCH, one of the mitigation methods offered to allow the increase of twice the number of skier days and a second helicopter for special uses was that NCH would keep the public informed via observations. In our area however we do have a regular second NWAC type report, with radio condition reports full of opinions on stability. Very often instability occurs due to spatial variability.

Kind of like when nwac reports are rated at moderates and folks run out and assume it's safe to ski steep gullies,  stack themselves up and the whole group gets hosed and they wonder why.

Should conclusions concerning stability be something we all should offer our opinion for and publicize it or should that be the purview of nwac?

Would you agree that without a history of near-miss incidents documented for a source,that source of information is suspect?

 in other words how many other times did they think conditions were stable and they got hosed,well we don't know.

 And what about money that gets diverted to the guide Outfitters for training of their own personnel? Is that acceptable?

It would need to be fact-checked, but I believe last season or the season before there was a half scholarship handed out to a guide employee, somewhere in the United States, for helicopter training which amounted to around $3,500.

If true would that be acceptable?

I better stop now because I'll be accused of conducting a personal dispute, a vendetta or who knows what, rather than my real motives of improving a system that appears to be corrupted by money.

 Go figure a concerned citizen having concerns about Public Safety. That can't be right.

Anyway lowell looking forward to a response. Kind of getting tired of the hit-and-run posts around here and would prefer an actual debate on the issues.
« Last Edit: 02/11/18, 11:57 AM by Micah » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
kamtron
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #3 on: 02/07/18, 09:07 AM »

Should conclusions concerning stability be something we all offer our opinion for and publicize it or should that be the purview of nwac?

NWAC observers have received extensive training (more than me) and are out there everyday. Therefore, the reports they submit are higher quality than the "average" backcountry user. Certainly they can dig a better pit than me.

Nevertheless, everyone is welcome and encouraged to submit their own obs. In my opinion, NWAC provides a valuable service, and the observers are part of keeping that service reliable, much more so than if they only had to rely on public obs.
« Last Edit: 02/11/18, 11:57 AM by Micah » Logged
Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #4 on: 02/07/18, 09:52 AM »

NWAC observers have received extensive training (more than me) and are out there everyday. Therefore, the reports they submit are higher quality than the "average" backcountry user. Certainly they can dig a better pit than me.

Nevertheless, everyone is welcome and encouraged to submit their own obs. In my opinion, NWAC provides a valuable service, and the observers are part of keeping that service reliable, much more so than if they only had to rely on public obs.
do you think that NWAC forecast information could be considered a type of heuristic trap for some individuals?

 could the current system be made better? If so how? Transparency? Honesty? Accurate reporting  of avalanche incidents ? Ethical behavior that favors a community? Additional education opportunities? A permit system for Backcountry skiers that has some kind of educational requirement?


I had a thread where we could have had this discussion but it was deleted, and now I think we're stepping on this thread. The CBA cat said his organization is not safety related per se and this is obviously a conversation about Public Safety.


lped_by_slee" target="_blank">http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/creativity_and_iq._what_is_divergent_thinking_how_is_it_he lped_by_slee
 

"What is divergent thinking?
Divergent thinking is the process of generating multiple related ideas for a given topic or solutions to a problem. Divergent thinking occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing, ‘non-linear’ manner. Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is the ability to apply rules to arrive at a single ‘correct’ solution to a problem such as the answer to an IQ test problem. This process is systematic and linear.

The idea of divergent thinking has become important in the scientific study of creativity because many widely used tests for creativity are measures of individual differences in divergent thinking ability."
« Last Edit: 02/11/18, 11:57 AM by Micah » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
Lowell_Skoog
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #5 on: 02/07/18, 05:02 PM »

I agree with you Lowell. However should observations be a commodity?

Anyone is able to report their observations on the NWAC site and many recreationists do. I'm glad of that. But professional observers have shown that they can deliver higher quality observations than most recreationists. Paying them something ensures that this gets done. I've donated to NWAC to support that.

In this case I think you get what you pay for.

Quote
Or should observations be something we all routinely  report because we're good citizens of the backcountry?

Sure, and many people do. But I would still like to see higher quality observations by trained observers.

Quote
Or should it be part of requirement for a special-use permit?

I don't see that as a necessary requirement for a special-use permit. Might be nice, but permit holders provide other services that are more directly addressed by their permit.

Quote
Should conclusions concerning stability be something we all should offer our opinion for and publicize it or should that be the purview of nwac?

Sure, we can all offer our opinion on stability and nobody is prevented from doing that. The folks at NWAC have always encouraged information sharing by the community.

Based on experience in other regions of the country, NWAC has decided that supporting professional observers is worth it for the better information that is produced. I agree with this move.

Quote
Would you agree that without a history of near-miss incidents documented for a source,that source of information is suspect?

We all make mistakes. I certainly have. That doesn't mean we can't offer useful information to others at times. All sources of information should be suspect to some degree. Remember, "the avalanche does not know you are an expert."

Quote
And what about money that gets diverted to the guide Outfitters for training of their own personnel? Is that acceptable?

What money are you talking about? What do you mean by diverted? Please be specific.

Training of guide personnel seems like a good thing to me. I'd rather have a well trained guide than one that isn't well trained. I don't understand what you're referring to about "diverted money."

Quote
It would need to be fact-checked, but I believe last season or the season before there was a half scholarship handed out to a guide employee, somewhere in the United States, for helicopter training which amounted to around $3,500.

If true would that be acceptable?

Sounds like you're dealing in rumors here. You'll have to provide more information before I'll agree there's anything sinister here. Helicopter training sounds like a good idea. Who's money are you talking about? Why is it a problem?

Quote
I better stop now because I'll be accused of conducting a personal dispute, a vendetta or who knows what, rather than my real motives of improving a system that appears to be corrupted by money.

A system corrupted by money? Or improved by spending money wisely? I see the latter.
« Last Edit: 02/11/18, 11:58 AM by Micah » Logged
Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #6 on: 02/09/18, 11:47 AM »

Anyone is able to report their observations on the NWAC site and many recreationists do. I'm glad of that. But professional observers have shown that they can deliver higher quality observations than most recreationists. Paying them something ensures that this gets done. I've donated to NWAC to support that.

In this case I think you get what you pay for.
  thanks for the reply.  As I said before I agree with you as to the value of observations.

You made a good point about the need for improving on the content of recreational observations,  however I see a lot of room for improvement on the commercial side also, ie bringing that content up to a standard of professionalism.

We need to all up our game in that regard. Do you know of the existence of an observational standard? If so maybe someone will post that.
 

What I mean by money corrupting a system is that I noted that two near miss Avalanches that were reported to nwac during the spring of 2016 were not reported in the nwac annual avalanche summary. It is also important to note that many guidess are under contract with nwac to provide observations. so the question would be is some kind of favoritism being offered here to what are basically employees invested in the same commercial structure.


Again, both incidents involved the same guide Outfitter owner. To me this troubling  selective data sharing gives the appearance that nwac is assisting the guide Outfitters in the non public disclosure of near miss Avalanche incidents.

We know that guide Outfitters consider public disclosure of near-miss accidents to be bad for business so is money  playing a role in the non-disclosure Public Safety information?

 If the answer to that question is yes, I would consider that system to be corrupt.

Also as I've noted here on TAY, guides and NWAC personnel investigate and analyze recreational Avalanche near miss avy incidents and those reports are published by nwac. I would assume that they are paid for this in depth analysis.

We just had a recreational near-miss accident in our area which was only a rumor until it was investigated in detail by local guides. I consider those types of analysis to be educational and in the best interest of Public Safety, don't you?


So if nwac also believes that type of analysis is useful to education and Public Safety why does that organization almost always exclude these types of analysis for commercial Guide Service incidents and exclude detailed analysis, and even exclude the incidents themselves from the annual Avalanche summary?

The exception for commercial group Avalanche incidents that make it to the annual report are the near-miss Avalanche incidents  that involve serious injury or death to a client or a guide. Those are very public and can't be hidden.

Are you really okay with a system that appears to favor money concerns over public safety concerns?




« Last Edit: 02/11/18, 11:59 AM by Micah » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #7 on: 02/10/18, 06:52 PM »

Professional Observation standards are found in the Snow,Weather, Avalanche Guidelines here:
https://www.americanavalancheassociation.org/swag/
This document is updated every 6-10 years to stay current with research and practices.

Professional Observations are tested
through the Level 3 until this year and now thru the Pro 1 and Pro 2 courses approved by the American Avalanche Association.
https://www.americanavalancheassociation.org/pro-training-program/

These standards have been worked thru and agreed upon from 7 industries that employ Avalanche Professionals: Transportation, Mining, Forecasting, Research, Ski Areas, Education and Guiding. This document was modelled after the Canadian OGRES(Observation Guidelines) which was created in 1981.
« Last Edit: 02/11/18, 11:59 AM by Micah » Logged
Micah
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #8 on: 02/11/18, 12:39 PM »

I trust NWAC to run their avalanche center. If they deem paid observers are worth the money, why not use them? As Lowell said above, it seems to be working. It's not like they have hidden their use of guides -- quite the contrary, it seems like they are promoting them with all the #insert_sponsor_here hashtags in the photo captions.

I also think mixing the roles of avalanche forecasting and guide regulation is a really bad idea. I have absolutely no problem with NWAC choosing not to publish incident details (for whatever reason) at the request of those involved, be they guides or not. As far as the need for guide regulation goes, I think I take a more libertarian approach than HFNC. I might feel differently if I felt like there was serious exploitation occurring. I think getting the government more involved would likely cause more problems than it would fix.
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Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #9 on: 02/11/18, 03:17 PM »

I trust NWAC to run their avalanche center. If they deem paid observers are worth the money, why not use them? As Lowell said above, it seems to be working. It's not like they have hidden their use of guides -- quite the contrary, it seems like they are promoting them with all the #insert_sponsor_here hashtags in the photo captions.

I also think mixing the roles of avalanche forecasting and guide regulation is a really bad idea. I have absolutely no problem with NWAC choosing not to publish incident details (for whatever reason) at the request of those involved, be they guides or not. As far as the need for guide regulation goes, I think I take a more libertarian approach than HFNC. I might feel differently if I felt like there was serious exploitation occurring. I think getting the government more involved would likely cause more problems than it would fix.

Exactly what problems would occur by the accurate reporting of information to the public?

 The government is also already highly involved in the regulation of Guide Outfitters and the administration of nwac.

Are you saying that it's okay for nwac to actively participate in the hiding of near Miss Avalanche incidents from the public just because those incidents involve guides outfitters, who are often under contract with nwac?

if you believe as I do that the reporting  and analysis of near-miss avalanche incidents is a benefit to Public Safety and education, why would you  think that purposely excluding guide Outfitter near Miss incidents from the annual Avy summary is consistent with the nwac mission statement?

NWAC mission statement:

"The mission of NWAC is to save lives and reduce the impacts of avalanches on recreation, industry and transportation in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains of Washington and northern Oregon through mountain weather and avalanche forecasting, data collection and education."


 Is the very fact that guide Outfitters are hiding their near-miss Avalanche incidents consistent with their terms of the special use permit that they operate under, specifically;

G. Health, safety, and Environmental Protection. The holder shall probably Abate as completely as possible and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations any activity or condition and arising out of or relating to the authorized use and occupancy that causes or threatens to cause a hazard to Public Health or the safety of the holders employees or agents or harm to the environment ( including areas of vegetation or Timber, fish or other Wildlife populations, their habitats or any other natural resources).

 The holder shall immediately notify the authorized officer of all serious accidents that occur in connection with such activities.  the responsibility to protect the health and safety of all persons affected by use and occupancy authorized by this permit is solely that of the holder. The  forest service has no Duty under the terms of this permit to inspect the permit area or operations and activity of the holder for hazardous conditions or compliance with health and safety standards."

 I guess it's pretty cozy for the guide Outfitters to have a willing participant, in the form of another governmental Institution  ie nwac , in the non disclosure of information that is a benefit to Public Safety and education.

And they do this as part of a double standard where they're paid to investigate, analyze and publish  recreational near Miss accidents, while not applying the same standard to themselves.

 I should also note that one of my reports on turns all year where I documented a recreational skier Avalanche incident was published in the nwac annual report.

Another  Avalanche incident that I reported on turns all year complete with pictures that I took when I went up to check out the scene, did not make it to the nwac annual report. That incident involved a client burial on a trip where two guides were involved.

And to be clear I am not against the use of paid Observers
 

I do  however believe that nwac, an organization that is supported by both state and federal tax dollars, and consists of federal employees in the form of forecasters, should honor their mission statement and operate according to principles of transparency and ethical Behavior.
 
« Last Edit: 02/11/18, 03:38 PM by Heli-Free North Cascades » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
Micah
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #10 on: 02/11/18, 04:07 PM »

I think NWAC should have flexibility in the creation of their forecasts, which incidents they investigate, etc. I trust the professional forecasters to make the best decisions they can to provide a reliable avalanche forecast. I think their products are of high quality, and I am grateful to have both the avalanche and the mountain weather forecasts, which are extremely useful for planning. You allege that NWAC selectively reports incidents to manage their relationships with guides. I think this view miscasts the purpose of avalanche incident reports in a dangerous way by implying that there are negative repercussions to reporting incidents. You seem to resent that you do not have an 'official' NWAC report of incidents that you have been involved in to use as documentation of wrongdoing. I say they don't owe you an official report. I don't support using NWAC reports as documentation of wrongdoing at all.

And I definitely don't want the forest service playing ski cop in the backcountry!
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Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #11 on: 02/11/18, 05:38 PM »

I think NWAC should have flexibility in the creation of their forecasts, which incidents they investigate, etc. I trust the professional forecasters to make the best decisions they can to provide a reliable avalanche forecast. I think their products are of high quality, and I am grateful to have both the avalanche and the mountain weather forecasts, which are extremely useful for planning. You allege that NWAC selectively reports incidents to manage their relationships with guides. I think this view miscasts the purpose of avalanche incident reports in a dangerous way by implying that there are negative repercussions to reporting incidents. You seem to resent that you do not have an 'official' NWAC report of incidents that you have been involved in to use as documentation of wrongdoing. I say they don't owe you an official report. I don't support using NWAC reports as documentation of wrongdoing at all.

And I definitely don't want the forest service playing ski cop in the backcountry!
you just presented a straw man argument. Where  have I said that I am looking for near-miss Avalanche incidents as evidence of wrongdoing?Also I never implied that there are negative repercussions to reporting Avalanche incidents. I have stated many times that reporting near Miss  Avalanche incidence is in the interest of our ski community and Public Safety .  I believe that's a positive statement .

So please don't put words in my mouth that are influenced by your personal bias. Doing so only confuses the issues.

I'm looking for accurate reporting and ethical Behavior by the very people who take tax payer dollars in the interest of Public Safety and then appear to purposely withhold Avalanche incident  reports that are in the interest of Public Safety. At least that's what the facts appear to support.

 I'm also surprised that the position that you're taking now concerning nwac and outfitter reporting relationships seems to be very different than the one you took in our private conversation. Can I post your p.m. on that issue? People should also know that you chose the title for this thread. My original title thread that you deleted was something to the effect of "nwac the appearance of impropriety?"

And guess what, we are all subject to the laws of this land when we are in the backcountry and the Forest Service has Law Enforcement jurisdiction over the National Forest. Please don't tell me that you don't believe in the principles of Law & Order.

And guess what, nwac is a Forest Service Institution that has a separate "Friends of nwac" nonprofit branch that takes private donations and raises money through fundraisers in order to support the mission statement.
« Last Edit: 02/11/18, 05:43 PM by Heli-Free North Cascades » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
frank
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #12 on: 02/11/18, 06:19 PM »

heli free, just curious if you've attempted to communicate directly with nwac about this?
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Micah
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #13 on: 02/11/18, 06:28 PM »

You can modify the title of the thread if you want. You have my permission to quote any of my PMs. You have accused NWAC of selective reporting and implied that this practice is ethically dubious, so I stand by my statements in this thread. I see how you would object to selective reporting, but I am not willing to publicly criticize NWAC. In fact, I felt compelled to defend them.
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frank
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #14 on: 02/11/18, 08:11 PM »

...I am not willing to publicly criticize NWAC. In fact, I felt compelled to defend them.

Govt. smear campaigns are getting a little old/boring these days.
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Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #15 on: 02/11/18, 08:19 PM »

Found this on the way back machine. This near Miss Avalanche report did not make it to the 2015/2016 nwac annual Avalanche summary, even though it was reported to nwac.

Incident number 2

https://web.archive.org/web/20161123214348/http://www.nwac.us/observations/pk/434/

Recreational Observation
East Slopes North - Canadian Border to Lake Chelan
March 15, 2016, 12:30 p.m. PST
Avalanches: This avalanche accident observation was produced collaboratively by both skiers involved. Skier A was travelling solo uphill and had just finished climbing a steep slope and had reached a bench in treed terrain below an open slope. Skier B was travelling in a party of two and was descending a ridge above the open area (the open area is measured at ~37 degrees and is 80-140 vertical feet and roughly 200 yards in lateral extent). Skier B ski cut the upper section of the open area with the intent of skiing the open area and triggered a size D1.5 soft slab avalanche. Skier B did not see skier A on the skin track below. The avalanche crown was measured at 25-45cm deep and the avalanche was roughly 125 feet in lateral extent. Skier A yelled and was hit by avalanche debris and lunged forward into the debris to avoid being pushed downslope. Once the debris stopped, Skier A stood up and was buried thigh to waist deep. Skier B asked if skier A was injured and skier A responded that he was not. Skier B descended further down (skier’s right) the ridge and skied the avalanche bed surface down to skier A while skier A removed his shovel to extricate his lower legs and skis, which had released but were attached to his boots with break-away leashes. The avalanche was SS-ASc-D1.5-R4 Submitted by Joshua Cole and Frank Clements
Latitude: 48.503640
Longitude: -120.627587
Did you see any avalanches? Yes
Did you trigger any avalanches? Yes
Was anyone caught in an Avalanche? Yes
« Last Edit: 02/11/18, 08:31 PM by Heli-Free North Cascades » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
BCSchonwald
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #16 on: 02/11/18, 08:49 PM »

Why not simply email NWAC and ask them to edit their report? It could be an oversight since it was the only incident in March. It is still in the database and included with all near misses.
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Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #17 on: 02/12/18, 08:09 PM »


BY LIAM BAILEY, FORECASTER, KIRKWOOD SKI PATROL
"According to Webster’ Dictionary, complacency is “self-satisfaction accompanied by
unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” I stumbled recently on an older Si-
menhois/Savage article, “Professional Avalanche Near Misses” (TAR 28.1). I will start
by saying I absolutely agree with them that “debriefing incidents, openly discussing
near misses, and participating in decision-making exercises…could aid in preventing
near misses.” You would be missing a great opportunity if you don’t attempt to learn
from other’s mistakes or mistakes you witnessed but weren’t directly involved in.


The problem with this is human nature. If you can’t admit there was a problem or
listen to anyone else’s analysis of your situation/event then not only will you not learn
anything from it but your potential for complacency is level at best and may even
increase. Further, your self-justification affects how much anyone else learns from it.
Rather than hearing a lot of potential solutions and lessons learned, patrollers who
were not directly involved hear a little bit of assessment and analysis and then a lot of
defense of actions, which makes it more difficult for others to learn from the incident.
As our culture becomes more and more politically correct, it is much more likely
that a person will simply back off so as not to offend or cause further discomfort to a
co-worker. The best situation is objective self-criticism of an incident with following
discussion, but that is probably the hardest to achieve, as it requires self-awareness,
situational awareness, and lack of ego."
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two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #18 on: 02/12/18, 08:47 PM »

Why not simply email NWAC and ask them to edit their report? It could be an oversight since it was the only incident in March. It is still in the database and included with all near misses.
this is the second Avalanche near miss incident that we know of that was reported by a guide to nwac and neither incident made it into the nwac annual Avy summary.

The first incident, Feb. 11, 2016 was mentioned in the nwac forecast but was not reported as a skier burial nor was it reported that the incident involved a guide Outfitter owner.







The following is how NWAC chose to report that near Miss information on February 12th 2016 concerning the previous days incident. We're fairly certain that the guide accurately reported this Avalanche near Miss incident to NWAC.

"However, a skier triggered avalanche down to the faceted 1/28 crust was observed in the Washington Pass area on a NE aspect around 7000 ft Thursday."

Note that this accident was not near the Washington Pass area it was closer to the Harts pass area. That's an important distinction.

And here is an excerpt from an NWAC email concerning that incident.


"The NCMG partial burial on Feb. 11th was communicated to us from the yurt via satellite messages late in the evening on the 11th. The observation was generically described in the discussion as a skier triggered avalanche in the next forecast issued on the 12th. "

That March 18th 2016 email was sent from nwac to another bc skier who had been addressing this issue with nwac almost 2 ago. I know of two other BC skiers who have addressed nwac concerning this issue of accurate reporting.


I simply looked into the issue and have conducted my own research into the matter and reported the results on Tay as a matter of transparency.

Nwac has had plenty of time to correct the record.

Also BCS, your theory about an nwac exclusion oversight doesn't address the fact that there was little analysis on either one of those near-miss incidents, similar to the public scrutiny that recreational near miss Avalanche incidents often undergo by the commercial guide industry and reported on nwac.

 This fact concerning recreational  accident scrutiny and lack thereof for commercial accidents is even addressed in some of the research papers that I've read put out by Avalanche professionals.

The industry appears to be aware of the problem and it doesn't help if nwac is in fact contributing to that problem.

I heard somewhere that the only way to give an Institution a conscious is to challenge that Institution.














« Last Edit: 02/12/18, 08:51 PM by Heli-Free North Cascades » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
BCSchonwald
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #19 on: 02/13/18, 12:08 AM »

Judging from other equivalent Avalanche Centers, annual reports are just snapshots summarizing the season. Not sure how NWAC is hiding anything  or what needs correcting as the reports were in the with the other Near Misses reported by the public.  The near misses are reported in a similar manner in other Avalanche centers, as they happen. Near misses are important lessons, how do you see them being used? What else needs to happen with them?

From a technical standpoint, these reports simply identify details that contributed to the incident and lessons learned, no blame is assessed since that is not the role of avalanche centers. If you know of a different way either Colorado or Utah are reporting or using this information then we have something to compare NWAC with.

Here are examples:
Colorado Avalanche Info Center
https://avalanche.state.co.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/caic_annual-report_15-16.pdf
Utah Avalanche Center:
https://utahavalanchecenter.org/sites/default/files/archive/annual-reports/uac/AnnualReport2015-16.pdf
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CBAlliance
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WWW
Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #20 on: 02/13/18, 05:07 PM »

It is my opinion that NWAC and the Forest Service should operate with complete transparency, which includes the accurate reporting of near-miss avalanche incidents.

Perhaps you got the wrong idea about NWAC when I mentioned their documents are less readily available than ours. Sure, you can click directly on our legal boilerplate, but NWAC is an extremely transparent organization- they have a pile of documentation on every aspect of their organization available to anyone who asks. This includes audits of their spending, which is required for their 501 (c)3 status. Have you tried simply emailing them and asking for the information you want?

It's disappointing that you feel the need to smear the reputation of organizations that exist to help the backcountry community. While you may feel that our role is less proven, the value of NWAC is obvious and endorsed by the many people who willingly support the nonprofit with their hard-earned cash. If you feel there's something they could do better, why don't you engage with them directly (i.e. not harassing them anonymously on a forum) and see what they say?

-Conrad
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cascadebackcountryalliance.org
Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #21 on: 02/15/18, 11:16 AM »

You can modify the title of the thread if you want. You have my permission to quote any of my PMs. You have accused NWAC of selective reporting and implied that this practice is ethically dubious, so I stand by my statements in this thread. I see how you would object to selective reporting, but I am not willing to publicly criticize NWAC. In fact, I felt compelled to defend them.
thank you for allowing me to quote your personal message that you sent to me.


Here is your quote.
"First, I agree that commercial interests do appear to have a different relationship with NWAC than the general public. Your specific claims that NWAC works to sanitize the safety records of private guides have been aired several times on TAY. I can easily believe that NWAC would withhold information at the request of a private guide. I don't think that state of affairs is great. You have brought that issue to my attention.

Also, I admit that NWAC is a kind of sacred cow. As I skier, I benefit greatly from their forecasts knowing that my $30 annual donation covers an insignificant portion of the costs. Clearly the resorts and WSDOT enjoy privileged relationships. Again, I can easily believe that private guides also do: they all donate to NWAC and often contribute observations. I also don't doubt that NWAC might withhold reports that would negatively affect guides' willingness to be forthcoming, esp. at the request of a guide or company. I grant that this is problematic.

I would point out that NWAC never claimed to be impartial, and they don't have any obligation to publicize incidents reported to them. They are not a government organization, and their reports are not public records." End quote



In a subsequent pm I pointed out to you that nwac forecasters are actually Forest Service employees and I believe the forest service administers nwac. So yes this is a governmental organization with a private nonprofit branch known as the "friends of the nwac".
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two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
Micah
Administrator
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Posts: 160


Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #22 on: 02/15/18, 02:09 PM »


In a subsequent pm I pointed out to you that nwac forecasters are actually Forest Service employees and I believe the forest service administers nwac. So yes this is a governmental organization with a private nonprofit branch known as the "friends of the nwac".


Indeed you did point this out to me. I was not aware that the forecasters were FS employees. I still maintain that they are not obligated to publish every report they get.
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gravitymk
Member
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Posts: 490


Re: NWAC's use of paid observers
« Reply #23 on: 02/15/18, 10:39 PM »

The mountain of good that NWAC has provided the community exceeds by a long shot any perceived shortcoming.

OP:
Your tone, your posts, your handle, all smack of a personal agenda.
Plenty of people here see it that way and have posted as much.
Nothing is perfect - Please move on.

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