Isaac Laredo

Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Environmental Science

Class of: 2018

After attending – and then working at – the Woodward Tahoe summer snowboard camp, I was ecstatic to discover that I could pursue my college education right in the high Sierra. Although the details of my passions keep evolving, they always center around the outdoors. After taking the AIARE 1 class, and the backcountry skiing and expedition course, I decided to major in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Environmental Science. It was a path that felt true to me; I had never been so engaged in my learning. I was inspired by the drive and push from my teachers, who work hard to open doors and create opportunities for their students.

“ODAL has changed the way I look at adventure.”

I’ve participated in plenty of new activities which began out of my comfort zone. On my first rock climbing trip, the height and my own inexperience made me very nervous. The same gut feeling that comes from being out of your comfort zone represents growth. I realized that I had to breathe deeply and focus on my connection with the rock and landscape. It was an awesome feeling to embrace and conquer my fear, and it allowed me to get to the top of some unreal climbs.

That climbing trip also showed me the importance of preparation and safety checks. That is one reason it’s so exciting to have the opportunity to work in the field with Sierra Avalanche Center. I will travel as a secondary to the forecasters, to give them higher safety margins and a longer reach. I will also be gathering content for a marketing program to engage, educate, and involve 18 – 25 year olds in the Sierra Avalanche Center program: getting the forecast, applying that information in the field, taking field observations, and then submitting those observations.

“I derive a lot of inspiration from people who live their lives to the fullest and continually have a smile on their face.”


UPDATE: 05-04-2018

Isaac’s senior research project, Testing the Effectiveness of Extended Column Test Results, won first place at the 2018 Student Symposium. The study assessed the accuracy of a popular model for predicting avalanche risk. The research results validated the usefulness of the ECT, and also suggested the specific conditions in which it may be less accurate.

To ECT or Not to ECT?: Measuring the Effectiveness of the Extended Column Test
Cascading avalanche in steep mountain terrainAbstract: Avalanches are the leading cause of deaths on national forest land. The Extended Column Test (ECT) is a popular snow stability test to help forecast avalanche hazard. Despite the benefits and popularity of the ECT, uncertainty surrounds the rate at which false stable results occur. In order to mitigate uncertainty regarding the false stability rate (FSR), this study utilized test slopes, ECTs, and SnowPilot profiles to evaluate the effectiveness of the ECT. Data analysis using the Hanessen-Kuiper Skill Score (TSS) yielded a value of -1/.85/1. Tabular analysis yielded a FSR of 1.2%. Overall, the ECT was effective at distinguishing stable and unstable slopes. The continued use and research of the ECT is essential to minimize avalanche fatalities.

The Student Symposium is held annually at the end of the spring term. It brings together the best of the student projects from each department and program.


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Katherine Zanto
Interdisciplinary Studies Program Chair
kzanto@sierranevada.edu
775-881-7529

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