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Avalanche Controller


Avalanche controllers work on mountains. They are experts in avalanches: they can predict them, they can even control them. The only thing they can't do is prevent them. If that snow wants to come down, it's coming down. Gravity never fails.

Avalanche controllers can prevent unnecessary deaths by avalanches. All too often skiers and snowboarders venture into regions where avalanches occur. However, if the controllers are doing their job, skiers and snowboarders will see the danger signs or hear an announcement, and stay away.

Avalanche controllers evaluate weather patterns, snowfall, wind conditions, and they measure snowpack stability by test-skiing slopes and digging to determine depth. They do all this to evaluate both the avalanche risk, the type of avalanche that could occur and the severity of it. They also try to judge the probability of survival, and figure out a window of time when it might happen.

Avalanche controllers might just leave the avalanche to occur naturally on its own, but share the information with ski hills, environmental groups, government agencies and transportation departments. They try to get the information out to anyone who might be affected. Often, though, instead of shutting down a road or a ski hill, avalanche controllers create their own avalanche using explosives. That way, the controllers can trigger an avalanche at a particular time instead of waiting for nature to take its course. Few people are inconvenienced this way, and no one has to lose their lives.

Avalanche controllers can also have a few other jobs. Some work for ski hills, and take tourists on skiing, hiking, or sightseeing trips up the mountain. Others work as ski patrollers and emergency workers on the hill. Others work with the forestry department or logging companies, while others may work for transportation departments.

Avalanche controlling is an exciting, yet dangerous job. Only those with an adventurous spirit, a love of skiing, and an immunity to the cold are encouraged to apply!
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Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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