The Virtual International Snow Science Workshop will be held October 5 and 6. Photo Submitted

The International Snow Science Workshop goes virtual

The livestreamed event will include speaker sessions, poster presentations, and panel discussions

The International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW) is going virtual this year, with a live streamed event held on October 5 and 6.

The ISSW is the world’s largest snow and avalanche conference, investigating international advances in avalanche and snow science. The event is expected to bring together roughly 1,000 participants including stakeholders, decision makers, and industry experts. The ISSW’s audience includes practitioners and scientists from a number of snow related fields including forecasting services, infrastructure, guides, search and rescue, research, and tourism.

The biannual event has taken place in countries all over the world, including Austria, Switzerland, and the United States.

Putting the Elk Valley on the map, Fernie was selected as the location for the 2021 ISSW due to its world class riding and notable avalanche program. With plans for the 2020 ISSW being postponed to next year, organizers created the virtual event to maintain momentum despite pandemic cancellations.

Among proceedings at the virtual event (VSSW) will be panel discussions, international speaker sessions, and poster presentations delivering the most current scientific snow and avalanche information.

“The theme of the conference is ‘emerging of theory and practice’, so the whole drive is to try and get theory into practical forms and to be able to apply it, meaning we need scientists, but also ski patrollers and back country enthusiasts to attend as well,” said chairman of the 2021 ISSW committee, Steve Kuijt.

A total of 14 speakers will attend the event from various countries across the avalanche community, delving into interpretations of their cutting edge research. Speakers will tackle topics including the formation, forecasting and failure of snow, rescue and risk, sensing and sustainability, and education and engineering. Two panel discussions will also be held, initiating interactive and thought provoking conversations.

The virtual event will continue with interactive poster sessions, allowing participants to publicize and share their latest research, receiving feedback from other practitioners and researchers. The VSSW is accepting poster submissions fitting with ISSW themes until September 1.

“Avalanches don’t stop just because of COVID-19, and neither does backcountry use,” said Kuijt. “It’s important to move forward with initiatives like this to make the world safer and keep this knowledge moving forward.”

Held via GoToWebinar, all proceeds from the VSSW will go towards the ISSW and the Elk Valley Snow and Avalanche Society for avalanche education in the Elk Valley.

Registration for the virtual event opens September 1, with early bird rates starting at $30. Finalized schedules and speakers will be listed on the VSSW website on September 1 via For more information on the ISSW, visit

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