“We practice our skiing, we practice our transceiver search, we might even practice digging, but we never practice the fundamental part of decision-making.” Director of the Snow and Avalanche Lab at Montana State University, Kiwi Jordy [pronounced YORD-ee] Hendrikx has lead groundbreaking research using GPS and crowd-sourced data to better understand travel behavior in avalanche terrain. The program, called SkiTracks, employs the help of backcountry travelers by asking them to download the SkiTracks app on their GPS-enabled smartphone, then go for a tour, and fill out a brief survey after their day out in the mountains. The data collected is then used by Hendrikx and his partner in the study, MSU political science professor Jerry Johnson, to better understand why we make the decisions we do in the backcountry.
In a sad irony, a 23-year-old student of Hendrikx’s, Olivia Buchanan, was caught and killed by an avalanche in Silverton on January 6, 2015. Buchanan is one of the main character’s of The Human Factor 2.0.