Sharing Your "Operational Working Memory" With Future Generations to Create a Safer Trip Environment


Sharing Your "Operational Working Memory" With Future Generations to Create a Safer Trip Environment - Online Classroom

Evening webinar on sharing our operational working memory to reduce repeat errors and create a safer trip environment. Presented by Jonathon Spitzer. This session will be online only.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Casual

7-8:30pm via Zoom Meeting
Meeting link will be sent to registered attendees a day or two before the session.

Seminar Description

It is essential that outdoor enthusiasts - including avalanche forecasters, guides, and volunteer trip leaders - accurately recall and apply the details of past events to create a safer trip environment. The operational capability to accurately report events and summarize event variability related to storm cycles and/or snowpack structure over terrain is limited with regards to a multitude of hazards. In the absence of a sophisticated method of computer modeling, most operations/professionals rely on "local knowledge," or what may be referred to as an operation's "working memory." Rarely are near-misses and accidents unexpected and without warning. 

As an IFMGA mountain lead guide and avalanche forecaster, I believe that operations and individuals do repeat errors.  During this seminar we are going to outline ways to communicate and share our operational working memory to help create a safer outdoor environment for all. This presentation will draw on examples from the backcountry ski, avalanche education, and mountaineering industries, but the principles will apply to all Mountaineers activities. Participants should expect to engage in small-group breakout sessions throughout the evening.

Jonathon Spitzer grew up hiking, climbing, and skiing in the Pacific Northwest. Early on he made outdoor pursuits his profession, and graduated from Western State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Recreation and Business. Jonathon obtained his AMGA/IFMGA certification in 2007, and at the time was one of the youngest Americans to become an IFMGA-licensed mountain guide. Jonathon’s passion for the mountains and guiding has only grown over the years. He has climbed and guided throughout the Cascades, the Alaska Range, the Himalaya, European Alps, much of the western US, and many locations in South America. Jonathon has also spent the last decade working as a heli-ski guide in the winter, and doing research in avalanche mitigation and risk management. In 2016, Jonathon was a keynote speaker at the ISSW (International Snow Science Workshop), where he educated avalanche industry professionals about operational risk management.

Jonathon’s well-rounded experience has also led to years working on gear development teams for companies like Black Diamond Equipment and Outdoor Research. Jonathon is a part of the AMGA national instructor team where he specializes in guide education.

In the office, Jonathon manages Alpine Ascents’ world-class guide staff and programs, including the Alps Program he developed in 2013. He leverages his technical skills and guiding experience to ensure our trips are staffed and programmed to the highest level. When not working, Jonathon enjoys teaching his son to ski, climbing with his wife, and traveling the globe on family adventures.

CategoryRisk Management


This seminar will be delivered online as a Zoom meeting. You will need access to a computer with a speaker and camera, as well as high-speed internet. Information about how to log-on to the Zoom meeting will be sent a day or two before the session.


Required Equipment

Required Equipment


Trip Reports