Brent Williams attends Wilderness Risk Management Conference on Mountaineers Scholarship

Brent Williams was one of two Mountaineers awarded a scholarship to attend the 2017 Wilderness Risk Management Conference in Portland, Maine.
Dee Ann Kline Parkinson Dee Ann Kline Parkinson
Olympia Branch Super Volunteer
January 19, 2018
Brent Williams attends Wilderness Risk Management Conference on Mountaineers Scholarship
Brent Williams and Jed Williamson

The core objective of the annual three day Wilderness Risk Management Conference is to offer an outstanding educational experience to help mitigate the risks inherent in exploring, working, teaching, and recreating in wild places. Brent Williams was one of two Mountaineers members awarded a scholarship to attend the 24th annual WRMC conference in Portland, Maine.

The conference included more than 30 speakers from around the world who shared their expertise on topics ranging from recreation, outdoor education, and training to risk management, risk mitigation, and incident reporting.

Brent described his most inspirational speaker: "I attended a pre-conference workshop, 'Honing Accident Analysis Skills: Classic Cases in Outdoor Pursuits' by Jed Williamson. I was hanging on to his every word as he has so much experience and knowledge through years of documenting how and why climbing accidents occur. Listening to his stories was great; I could have done it all day."

The other workshop that really resonated with Brent was called "Training to Failure and Other Unlikely and Highly Effective Training Strategies" by Jeff Jackson. This presentation confirmed  what The Mountaineers are doing well, specifically the importance of practicing in real world situations (for example: crevasse rescue practice in an actual crevasse). Of the session, Brent said, "Jeff confirmed that by practicing in a real world scenario you are improving your odds of minimizing serious accidents, although you may risk the chance of incurring minor injuries during the practice itself." 

As a scholarship winner, Brent committed to share what he learned with Mountaineers branch leaders, course instructors, and students. He will be speaking during one of the Olympia climbing lectures this year and will do an exercise with the students involving the topic of risk management and how we can mitigate risk.

For climb leaders he has posted all his conference notes on Google Docs. To request access, please contact Andy Weber.  Brent added, "Perhaps the most useful information is all the recommended readings I gathered from the conference speakers for those who want to learn more about the subject of risk management."

Brent is also working with Steve Smith, the Mountaineers Climbing Education Manager, to discuss ways to implement ideas into the curriculum of programs throughout The Mountaineers. Smith has served on the WRMC Education and Steering Committees over the past six years, and is committed to supporting risk management practices at the Mountaineers.  

Brent described his biggest take-away from the conference: "It's amazing that The Mountaineers - as a volunteer organization with volunteer leaders - is able to offer such varied and challenging outdoor experiences and still remain safe. The structure and rigor that we require is for good reason, and that reason is to help mitigate risk as it applies to the activities we love to do!"

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