AM and PM Meetings
As a mountain guide, I have a meeting at the beginning of every day before breakfast and at the end of the day, usually in the evening just before dinner. These meetings are structured to achieve specific goals:
- Maintain a high level of safety appropriate to the conditions and the group.
- Ensure that all members of the group are considered in terms of fitness, goals, skills and experience
- Ensure that we have a good game plan with backup options appropriate for our group and the given conditions, with a margin to cope with any surprises or changes in conditions during the day.
Start your day right
The most important decisions of the day happen before you even put your skis on. Your goals for the day are a distillation of all that’s important: group composition, current conditions, weather forecast, avalanche problems, avalanche forecast, and the unique combination of skills, aspirations and risk tolerances of your group members.
The guiding industry has learned many lessons from other industries over the years. Surgeons and airline pilots, both experts in risk management, use checklists. The guiding industry has done likewise, and it’s make a huge positive impact on the quality of our decision making and ultimately the safety of our clients and ourselves.
Here are a few forms that serve as checklists to frame your own decision making. If you find them useful, or if you have any suggestions on how they can be improved please don’t hesitate to contact me using the texting widget at the bottom right corner of the screen, or this contact form.
AM Meeting Form – this is a pretty robust form that is what I use every morning for guides meetings throughout the winter. It might be a bit excessive, but it really does a great job of framing the decision making process.
Simplified Trip Planning Form – this is a simplified version of my AM Meeting Form that might be more appropriate for recreational trips or trips that are more straightforward. It contains all of the necessary information, but just doesn’t have room for the same kind of detail as my AM Meeting Form above. If you would like a spreadsheet version I have one of those too.
PM Meeting Form – this form frames your post-trip debrief. A post-trip debrief is essential. I often will use this form to guide discussions in the car on the way home if I’ve been skiing locally. A PM Meeting can take just 10 minutes, and this is where the greatest learning of your day is likely to come as you and your ski buddies talk about what went right, what went wrong, and how you’d do it better the next time. It’s best done before everyone gets on their phones and zones out for the drive home and it’s a great way to keep your driver alert at the wheel! This form is a simplified version of what I use but I think it’s plenty adequate.
Courses and Guided Day Trips
Here are a selection of trips aimed at building your avalanche skills and giving you the chance to ski with a guide, with an emphasis on education and decision making. These goal of these courses is to equip you with the tools and knowledge to have meaningful discussions about staying safe in avalanche country.