Classroom Session Instructors

Dale Atkins
With more 30 years of experience working with avalanches Dale trains and works with avalanche professionals and rescuers around the world. He has extensive avalanche experience as a rescuer, forecaster, researcher, educator and technology developer while working in recreation, industry and government domains. He honed his skills while working 20 years with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Along the way Dale also included 20 years of professional ski patrolling, and he has more than 40 years of mountain rescue experience. Dale worked for RECCO AB for more than 10 years. He was active for 20 years as the US representative to the Avalanche Rescue Commission for the International Commission for Avalanche Rescue; for 5 years he served as the sub-commission’s vice president. He is also a past president of the American Avalanche Association.

Doug Chabot
Doug has been director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center since 2000. He received his B.A. in Outdoor Education from Prescott College in 1986. From 1990 to 1999 he worked as a professional ski patroller at Bridger Bowl Ski Area in Bozeman, Montana. Starting in 1995 Doug has worked for the GNFAC as an avalanche specialist. He's also a mountain guide, climber and avalanche consultant. Doug has been on numerous climbing expeditions to Alaska, Nepal, India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan, resulting in many first ascents and new routes. In 2011, Doug co-founded Iqra Fund, a nonprofit doing education work for girls in northern Pakistan. (


Alex  Marienthal
Alex is the lead avalanche forecaster at the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center where he has worked full-time since 2015. Prior to joining the GNFAC he was a ski patroller at Bridger Bowl full-time for three seasons, and he continues to make guest patrol appearances a handful of days each winter. In 2014 Alex earned his M.Sc. in Earth Science from Montana State University with a focus in snow science and avalanche forecasting. His thesis examined meteorological metrics associated with deep slab avalanches at Bridger Bowl. Alex has dug hundreds of snowpits and performed even more stability tests while assessing snowpack at the ski area and in the backcountry, as a professional, and for recreation. His favorite “non-work” activities are skiing, spring-skiing, summer-skiing, music, camping, and mountain biking.

Mark Staples
Mark is the Director of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center where he has been since 2015. Before that he worked as a forecaster at the Gallatin NF Avalanche Center, as a professional ski patroller at Big Sky, as a helicopter and alpine rescue coordinator for Gallatin County Search and Rescue, and as a NOLS climbing and mountaineering instructor. He earned a MS in Engineering at Montana State University studying the energy balance at the snow surface and weak layer formation. His undergraduate engineering degree is from the University of Virginia. He has learned more about avalanches and people from visiting avalanche accidents, recovering victims, and having conversations with their partners and families. The lessons from every accident go with him everyday in the field. He is equally comfortable on skis, snowmobiles or snow bikes. He lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and three boys.


Bruce Tremper 
Bruce grew up skiing in the mountains of western Montana where his father taught him the basics of avalanches at the age of 10. After a successful, national ski racing career, he started his professional avalanche career in 1977 doing avalanche control at Bridger Bowl Ski Area in Montana, earned a master’s degree in Geology from Montana State University, studying under the well-known avalanche scientists Dr. John Montagne and Dr. Bob Brown. He then took over as the Director of Avalanche Control at Big Sky Ski Area in Montana and worked as a backcountry avalanche forecaster for the Alaska Avalanche Forecast Center, finally, the Director of the Utah Avalanche Center for 29 years from 1986 until his retirement in 2015. He has been featured in numerous national and international television documentaries about avalanches including those produced by National Geographic and Discovery Channel among many others and has regularly appeared on national network news programs. Bruce wrote the books "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain," and "Avalanche Essentials" both published by Mountaineers Books, now translated into five languages.  In 2021, Bruce was inducted into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame for his creative contributions to the avalanche world.



Paul Baugher
Paul was the ski patrol director at Crystal Mountain Resort in Washington State for over 30 years. He also directs the Northwest Avalanche Institute a group that consults on avalanche matters for a variety of clients including Burlington Northern railroad, guide services, the military, SAR groups, USFS, NPS, and local land use agencies. Paul’s extensive ski safety and risk management consulting work with ski areas across the country includes several recent ski area inbounds avalanche trials. Additionally, Paul is a former guide and co-owner of International Mountain Guides (IMG), a climbing guide service based at Mt. Rainier. Since the 80's, Paul’s professional work experience has included snow safety director, ski patrolman, and heli-ski guide in winter and as a mountaineering guide and climbing ranger at Mt. Rainier National Park in the summer. Paul was a past chairman of the National Avalanche School steering committee. He is also a former vice president of the American Avalanche Association. Paul received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Puget Sound in 1978.

Mike Ferrari
Mike has recently been named the Program Director for the National Avalanche School. Mike at-tended the NAS in 1997. He is in his 30th year working for Mt. Rose Ski-Tahoe. For the past 20 seasons he has been the Patrol and Risk Manager for the resort. During his time at Mt. Rose he went through the planning process with the USFS to open The Chutes in the 2004/05 season that is some of the steepest sustained vertical inbounds avalanche terrain in North America. Mike is the past Treasurer of the American Avalanche Association (A3). He is also a recreational course provider and Instructor with AIARE. Mike lives in Reno, Nevada with his wife Daniela and his three girls. He has a 7 year old Border Collie named Mac and a 2 ½ year old German Sheppard named Kona that work with him on the mountain. He is looking forward to giving back to a program that started his formal avalanche education.

Mike Rheam
Mike works as the avalanche hazard reduction leader for Jackson Hole Ski Patrol and as a for-caster for the Bridger-Teton NF Avalanche Center. Mike is the coordinator and lead instructor for the JH NAS Field Session. He has had extensive experience guiding and forecasting for Valdez Heli-Ski and Chugach Powder Guides and is currently a guide and snow safety consultant for Tordrillo Lodge in the Alaska Range. Mike floats, fishes, hikes and skis with his wife and daughter, both of whom ski better than he does.

David Richards
David Richards is the Director of the Alta Ski Area Avalanche Program.  He has worked at Alta for 21 years.  First as a Ski Patroller, and now for eight years as the head of the program.  He has worked as a helicopter ski guide, an avalanche dog handler, and is still active with backcountry search and rescue with the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue program.  As part of his job experience David has been active in developing a RACS program within Little Cottonwood Canyon, the development of new explosives for avalanche mitigation, and the study of the psychology behind avalanche work.  He has also been involved in the study of emotional trauma and stress in the avalanche worker.  David’s passion remains backcountry skiing without the radio pack.

Lel Tone
Lel grew up in Switzerland and started her skiing career in the Alps at the age of three. She ski raced during her college years in Vermont and even had a short stint competing in Extreme com-petitions when she moved to Squaw Valley in 1994. Lel has been a member of the Squaw Valley ski patrol since 1994 and from 2004 to 2010 was the assistant avalanche forecaster there. Lel has been guiding in the Chugach mountains since 1999, and in 2000 became a guide at Chugach Powder Guides. She has been guiding for Tordrillo Mountain Lodge in the Tordrillo Mountains since 2010. Lel is a licensed blaster in the state of California and is an avalanche control route leader at Squaw. She has her Level 1, 2, and 3 avalanche certifications and is an AIARE Level 1 and 2 avalanche instructor. Since 2004 Lel has been teaching avalanche courses in the Lake Tahoe area and far be-yond in South America. Lel feels passionately about teaching people on the miracle of snow science and how to travel safely in the mountains. She has been an EMT since 1989 and a professional member of the American Avalanche Association since 2000. She was a member of the board for the American Avalanche Association and held the Ethics Chair position. Lel is a guide member of Heli Ski US and instructor for the HSUS Guide School.

Karl Birkeland
Karl is the Director of the Forest Service National Avalanche Center, where he provides national direction and guidance for the agency’s avalanche centers and military artillery program. As a part of his job he works to transfer new and emerging technologies to field practitioners within the avalanche community. Karl is also an adjunct Professor of Earth Sciences at Montana State University where he supervises a number of graduate students. Karl’s professional work with avalanches as a ski patroller, educator, backcountry forecaster, and researcher spans almost 40 years. He founded the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center in Bozeman, and he earned both his MS and PhD degrees investigating snowpack variability and related ramifications for avalanche fore-casting. When he is not working in the snow, Karl enjoys spending as much time as possible in the mountains and on rivers with his wife and two daughters.

Ethan Greene
Ethan has approached snow and avalanches from both a practical and theoretical perspective. He worked at Big Sky Ski Resort in Montana as a ski patroller and at the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center in Salt Lake City as an avalanche forecaster. Ethan studied meteorology at the University of Utah (BS) and snow drift formation at Colorado State University (MS). He spent a lot of time looking at the microstructure of snow and its metamorphism in very large freezers in Colorado and Switzerland (PhD). Ethan has authored to a variety of general interest and scientific articles, and chaired the committee that produced Snow, Weather, and Avalanches: Observational Guide-lines for Avalanche Programs in the United States (SWAG). He was part of the working group that produced the International Classification for Seasonal Snow on the Ground (2009) and is head of the Snow and Avalanche Division of the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences. Ethan is currently the Director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, a program of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. He lives in Leadville, Colorado with his wife and two children.

Scott Savage
Scott is the Director at the Forest Service Sawtooth Avalanche Center in Ketchum, ID  where he has worked since 2012. After completing degrees in Chemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Colorado, Scott spent most of the 1990’s and 2000’s as a ski patroller, avalanche forecaster, and snow safety director at Big Sky Resort in Montana. While recovering from a series of knee surgeries from 2008-11, he focused on studying his and other avalanche professionals’ experiences, mistakes, and decision-making. Scott has presented at several ISSW’s, contributes regularly to The Avalanche Review, and is a frequent speaker at regional avalanche awareness events and professional development seminars. Scott and other avalanche professionals formed Avalanche Worker Safety, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing workplace accidents involving avalanche workers in North America. Scott is an Advisor to the American Avalanche Association and resides in Hailey, ID with his wife and son.

Simon Trautman
Simon is an avalanche specialist at the Forest Service National Avalanche Center. He studied wet snow avalanching at Montana State University and has worked as an avalanche forecaster for the Moonlight Basin ski patrol, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the Sawtooth Avalanche Center, and the Northwest Avalanche Center. He was the director of the Sawtooth Avalanche Cen-ter from 2012-2014 and the interim Director of the Northwest Avalanche Center during the 2018-2019 season. He lives in Bellingham, Washington.