When the POWDER editorial staff sat down and analyzed the first edition of The Human Factor, the award-winning multimedia feature that investigated the psychology behind decision-making in avalanche terrain, an obvious question was: “How can the story evolve?” In the first edition, author David Page cited the groundbreaking research of engineer Ian McCammon and his 2002 study on heuristics and decision-making in the backcountry. We knew other avalanche researchers looked at McCammon’s study and were looking to expand the topic of decision-making in avalanche terrain, and that this information could possibly help save lives.
On Thursday, October 29, The Human Factor 2.0 launches on Powder.com. Page traveled across the Rocky Mountain West and Europe, speaking to heartbroken families and friends, snow-safety experts, and skiers to illuminate this new research. As Nate Wallace, a Chamonix skier and friend to many who have died in avalanches, poignantly says in the trailer, “arm-chairing peoples’ decision-making is a tricky thing when you’re not there.” And he’s right. But by focusing on the research as well as the survivors—victims’ ski partners and family and friends—our hope is that we can better educate our community on improving decision-making to mitigate future tragedy. —John Stifter