Tag: Scott Aitken

“Three Decades on the Duffey” Video Recap“Three Decades on the Duffey” Video Recap


A few weeks ago we kicked off our 2012-2013 Speaker Series by welcoming Scott Aitken in for a presentation at the museum. For nearly three decades Scott has worked for the BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure as an avalanche forecaster, essentially making him responsible for managing the avalanche hazard on local roads such as the Duffey Lake Highway. As Scott explained his lengthy service with the Ministry “hardly anyone sticks to one job for thirty years these days, but I guess there’s worse ruts to get stuck in.”

Scott’s not just extremely knowledgeable about avalanche safety, he’s also an easy-going affable character who’s widely respected in the community. There was a lot of buzz leading up to the event from people who were looking forward to “Scotty’s talk.” We even had avalanche technicians drive up from Vancouver claiming it was for professional development!

Even though we crammed as many people into the museum as we could, we still had to turn away dozens of folk for the sold-out show. For those who weren’t able to make it we recorded Scott’s talk and have made it available here. We’ve edited together a few of the many great anecdotes Scott shared that evening,. If you want to listen to the talk in its entirety, scroll down to the bottom of the page.

First, Scott introduces his talk and talks about his roots as an avalanche professional:

In this clip, Scott recounts a bad day in the mountains, with a very happy ending!

In this clip Scott briefly explains one of the most advanced tools in the avalanche technician’s arsenal, the Daisy Bell, and one of his less pleasant experiences with the avalanche detonator.

And here is Scott’s full presentation. Enjoy:

Speaker Series: Three Decades On The DuffeySpeaker Series: Three Decades On The Duffey


*** SOLD OUT ***

Failure planes, depth hoar, induction lines, Rutschblocks. Even if you have no idea what we’re talking about, you probably know that avalanche safety is an extremely important topic in B.C. and other mountain regions around the world. Avalanche science has come a long way over the last three decades, and Scott Aitken has seen it all.

Scott in front of some Gazex avalanche detonator above the Duffey.

Scott is entering his 29th season as an avalanche technician for the B.C. Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure’s Coast-Chilcotin section. The man is personally responsible for keeping our region’s roads safe from snow slides, including the renowned ski terrain above the notorious Duffey Lake Highway. You can bet he’s accumulated his share of stories over the years.

For a quick video tease of Scott working in the field, check this short clip “Avalanche Road” from photo/video magician Jordan Manley, profiling avalanche crews around the province (Scott and partner Doug Tuck appear about 1:35 in):

This Wednesday evening Scott will be coming into the Whistler Museum to kick off our winter Speaker Series with a presentation  entitled “Avalanche Forecasting: A Thirty Year Retrospective.” The start of another glorious, snow-filled winter is the perfect time for a snow-safety refresher, but don’t come expecting a dull crystallography lecture (though I’m sure he’ll be happy to answer any technical questions).

Fairly typical work conditions for an Avy Tech.

Instead, Scott will offer a unique first-hand account of the life of a professional avalanche technician. These folks work pretty darn hard to keep our roads and surrounding mountains safe, but go completely unnoticed when they’re doing their jobs best. Wednesday’s presentation will provide you with a behind-the-scenes look into these unheralded efforts and broaden your perspective on the huge advancements in avalanche safety over the years.

Where: Whistler Museum (4333 Main Street, behind the Library)
When: Wednesday November 21st, Doors 6:15pm, Presentation 7pm
Tickets: 7$/$5 for Museum members. Advance tickets at museum or call 604-932-2019
Other: Cash Bar (19+), complimentary tea & coffee.

Stay tuned for announcements about upcoming Speaker Series events, to occur on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, January through April.