Whistler Blackcomb hosting Forecaster’s Forum 

Avalanche control experts to answer questions about mountain closures

click to enlarge PHOTO BY PAUL MORRISON / COURTESY OF WHISTLER BLACKCOMB
  • Photo by Paul Morrison / Courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb

Have you ever wondered why certain areas of Whistler Blackcomb are closed off on a powder day? The mountain operator's avalanche forecasters will have the answer to that question and many more in a special event scheduled for Saturday evening.

Tony Sittlinger and Anton Horvath are hosting a Forecaster's Forum on Nov. 23 at Millennium Place that will be free and open to the public.

Horvath, the forecaster for Whistler Mountain, said he and Sittlinger will be able to explain the thinking behind their decisions, which at times may leave some skiers and snowboarders disappointed after a big snowfall but are ultimately made in the interest of everyone's safety.

"We've been having some early-season issues with some of our guests hiking into closed terrain," said Horvath. "We're just trying to give some insight into what we do up here, how we (arrive at) some of the decisions we make, how we go about opening the mountain and how some actions that our guests take impact how we open the mountain - quite negatively, at times.

"It's been more and more of a problem of people hiking into closed terrain or hiking into areas where we're trying to do avalanche control."

Horvath said there weren't any problematic incidents noticed in the first few days of skiing on Whistler since it opened on Nov. 16, but skiers choosing to disobey closures have become more and more of an issue over the past couple of years.

On top of hearing about the reasoning behind avalanche control decision-making by Whistler Blackcomb staff, attendees at Saturday's event will also get insiders' perspectives on operational procedures.

"We're going to get in-depth about how we systematically open each mountain after a storm cycle and some of the decisions that go on behind it," said Horvath.

The Forecaster's Forum on Saturday is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m., presented by Arc'teryx and the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Patrol. The meeting will include a pre-event reception and a question-and-answer period with forecasters.

Seats will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you're unable to make it, the presentation will be captured on video and posted to www.whistlerblackcomb.com/backcountry at a later date.

Speaking of Millennium Place

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