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Ice Climbing in Colorado

Leading ice. Love the climbing in Vail!

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12 from 2012: Outdoor Safety Articles

Here’s some of what we’ve been reading at OSI over the past year. These articles covering outdoor safety and outdoor program topics may be weeks or months old, but they’re worth revisiting. Some, like the first feature on an avalanche incident, made the list both for material covered and exceptional writing and presentation. Others, like the Backpacker Magazine piece on an incident involving falling trees, made the list primarily because they focus on an important or emerging safety hazard.


Backcountry SkierSnow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek (New York Times): This stunning multimedia feature provides an in-depth view of a massive avalanche incident in the Steven’s Pass, Washington area. It is a long read, but be sure to at least check out all of the pages and interactive features. (12/26/12)

Three Youth Backpackers Against SunsetTough Lessons for Organizations Serving Vulnerable Populations (Nonprofit Risk Management Center) 2012 was a year of many disturbing revelations about past abuse. Outdoor programs, especially those serving youth, should take heed of these lessons learned by other organizations. (6/27/12)

Grizzly bearGrizzly Attack (Outside Magazine): This account of a ferocious 2011 attack on seven NOLS students is a must-read for anyone venturing into grizzly country. The initial news coverage of this incident was poor, so we previously shared links to the best articles covering this incident. (1/5/12)

Woman rappeling in YosemiteRappelling (Will Gadd’s Blog): Too many climbers continue to perish or suffer injury on descent. One of the world’s top all-around climbers and adventurers offers his advice. As Gadd notes, some of the comments in response to his piece are valuable reading. (8/7/12)

Student Traveller with MapPreventing Students from Becoming Prey (Lodestone Safety International Blog): Students who travel and study abroad may be targets for crime or manipulation. Our friend Bill Frederick covers how to effectively educate students to reduce these risks. (10/10/12)

Dead Lodgepole Pine TreesOut Alive: Chased by Widowmakers (Backpacker Magazine): More important than the story (or the dramatized illustration) is the reality that falling trees pose an ever-greater hazard due to the massive forest die-off occurring in the Western U.S. (11/12) 

Avalanche TransceiverAvalanche Beacons and Electrical Interference (BCA Blog): A new study indicates that common electronic devices (camera, iPod, GPS, etc.) can significantly throw off an avalanche transceiver search. More research in real-world settings would be helpful, but beacon users should be aware of this info. (11/19/12)

Grizzly sow with 2 cubsAre Hungry Bears in Yellowstone Attacking Humans For Food? (Outside Magazine): Though we like bears and aren’t fixated on toothy threats, both this article and number 3 on this list are about grizzlies (and both are from Outside Magazine). Bears don’t pose the greatest hazard in the outdoors, but this article on OSI’s backyard has us paying extra attention. (5/7/12)

removing a tickAnother Tick-Borne Disease to Guard Against (New York Times): Babesiosis, which causes flu-like symptoms, is carried by the same ticks as Lyme disease and is spreading in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Untreated cases can have serious consequences. (7/30/12)

Sea KayakerTragedy on Lake Superior ( A sea kayaking instructor discusses personal risk management and maintaining instructional standards in light of the tragic kayaking death of one of his former students. (6/20/12)

Dice imageHow to Beat the Odds at Judging Risk (Wall Street Journal): More evidence that those who learn to be effective at gauging risk receive prompt and clear feedback on their assessments. This is an excerpt from the book “Risk Intelligence” by Dylan Evans. (5/11/12)

Backcounty Skiers Discuss TerrainPerils in Powder (Bozeman Daily Chronicle): OSI’s hometown newspaper combines firsthand avalanche accounts, expert advice, and graphical representation of avalanche fatality statistics to create this in-depth special feature. (12/20/12)

And making it a baker's dozen, we have this article a reader suggested to us:

Deer Mouse in Tree
What Caused the Yosemite Hantavirus Outbreak? (Scientific American): Hantavirus, spread by rodents, has always been associated with the high desert Southwest. Now, with 10 cases in Yosemite and 3 deaths, is it spreading? (9/7/12)

Also be sure to review some of OSI's 2012 articles including Improving Water Safety and The Trouble with (Climbing) Tethers.

We'd appreciate any suggestions you have on recent articles relevant to outdoor safety. Please add them in the comments section below.

"Out Alive" trees image:, Mouse image: Mountain Prairie

Posted by

Alex Kosseff

on 1/15/13
Field SafetyIncidentsNews


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