As he skins he stops to look for signs of weakness. He kicks his ski tip through wind drifts, or sticks the butt end of his pole down into the snow to see if he can feel different layers. Two stray dogs have followed him, and they circle impatiently while they wait for him. “Just poking around,” he says. But he pokes with mathematical precision. He checks both north and south facing slopes, and snow that is in the shade as well as the sun, to make sure that he doesn’t miss any detail. He says he’s trying to assemble a picture of what is going on.
That picture is crucial to the other component of Snook’s job, because it gives him a real-time view of what the snow is doing. Two days a week he is in the office, creating written forecasts of the avalanche danger, which are used by everyone from major ski areas to recreational skiers. Those days are significantly different from his skiing days.