About Us

Meet the humans at Silverton Avalanche School

In 1962, the Silverton Avalanche School was established through the San Juan County Sherrif's Office. SAS is a non-profit organization located in the rugged San Juan Mountains. For the past 60 years, SAS has educated skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers, ski patrollers, search and rescue personnel, and public safety personnel about the hazards of avalanches.

SAS is dedicated to delivering mountain safety education to the recreational and professional audience with the goal of reducing accidents and fatalities. SAS formed the professional training progression for avalanche workers in 2014 and continues to work with the industry to create standards and promote innovate avalanche training and risk management techniques.

Our courses are taught by internationally recognized members of the American Avalanche Association (A3) and the Canadian Avalanche Association.

Our instructors bring a wealth of professional experience and a passion for education. Backgrounds include avalanche forecasters, snow scientists, ski patrol, heli guides, mountain rescue specialists and IFMGA mountain guides. All have gone through a rigorous training and education process and bring both practice and theory to the the table.


Aaron Rice


Aaron’s path to avalanche education is rooted in the joy of skiing, and his relationship with the mountains is one of lifelong learning. Since learning to walk and ski simultaneously, skiing has been the guiding force throughout his life. He began work as ski instructor in high school on the small hills of Massachusetts, later moving west to earn a degree in hydrology and atmospheric science from the University of Colorado. Following graduation, his technical training accelerated during a four-year stint of climbing and skiing in the Tetons. As a guide and educator, Aaron has led expeditions throughout the Four-Corners region and Alaska. A snow-nerd at heart, Aaron works simultaneously as a recreational and rescue instructor for SAS, a pro-patroller at Ski Santa Fe, and a pro-observer for the Taos Avalanche Center. He previously worked as a field technician for the NASA SnowEx Campaign. Aaron holds certifications as a NREMT-B and WEMT, AAA Professional Level 1, and has begun working down the AMGA Ski Guide track. Outside of the snowy months, he works as an editor for OutdoorGearLab and regularly contributes to Backcountry Magazine. Aaron is our lead REC instructor for New Mexico, and resides in Santa Fe with his wife, Jill, and their young family.

Angela Hawse


Angela is an IFMGA mountain guide and president of the AMGA with three decades of professional experience, working full-time in alpine, rock and ski disciplines. She course directs and guides for many operations domestically and internationally.

Angela is a PRO Lead Instructor and brings a diverse operational background to the program via her guiding, thru her work forecasting for heli-ski and mining operations, ski Patrolling, leading nonprofits and her work as a collegiate faculty member. Angela is a professional athlete, lover of snow, mountains and climate advocacy. In addition to 28 seasons in the San Juan Mountains, Angela has guided, taught, and explored from the Antarctic Peninsular to the South Summit of Mt. Everest visiting many remarkable places on our planet in between. She’s trained and examined aspiring guides for the AMGA since 2006, served on their Technical Committee and Board for over 11 years.

Angela earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Prescott College and took her first avalanche course on Red Mountain Pass with Rod Newcomb and Don Bachman in 1984. She completed Level 3 in the US and finished the rigorous 14-day CAA Pro Industry Level 2 training and assessment program. She instructs with Mountain Safety Info’s Train-the-Trainer program on avalanche rescue and is a member of the MSi international working groups.

Angela was the first North American on the IFMGA Board and recently became the first women to join the IFMGA Technical Committee. She received the AMGA Guide of the Year Award in 2008 and the AMGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Guiding in 2022.

Bill Allen


As the co-owner of Mountain Trip, based in Telluride, CO, Bill feels lucky to have been able to create a life out of pursuing the things that he loves to do for over 20 years now. Bill grew up playing in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, and eventually made it to Alaska where he found his first guiding job and realized that he could make a living out of it. Decades later, he has been to places that he never dreamed he would get a chance to go, climbed all the “7 Summits” twice, and stood on top of Mount Everest 3 times. He loves sharing those experiences with climbers from around the world. Although he spends most of his time in the San Juans now, Alaska is still in his blood as he has guided nearly 30 expeditions on Denali, and other peaks in Alaska. During the winter in the San Juans, he works as a ski guide for both the heli skiing and the backcountry ski touring programs whenever he manages to get out of the Mountain Trip office. 

Chris Johnson


Chris started Ski Patrolling in 2000. He was certified by Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment (CRAD) with his avalanche dog, Luna, in 2003. In 2010 he became Ski Patroller for Beaver Creek Ski Resort and joined the Vail Mountain Rescue Group. He became the Avalanche Operations Director for VMRG in 2017. Chris has his blasters certification and has enjoyed being a route leader for many years.  He is also heavily involved as a forecaster for Beaver Creek Patrol. In the summer months, Chris is the Operations Manager and Raft Guide for Lakota Guides in Avon, CO.

Chris Marshall


Chris Marshall fell in love with skiing during his sojourns to the icy forested slopes of New England’s mountains before his love for mountains and powder skiing drew him out West. Chris Marshall has been guiding and instructing in the mountains since 2006. He earned a BA in Wilderness Leadership and Geography in 2005 and a MA in Experiential Education in 2011 from Prescott College. He worked as an Associate Faculty member for Prescott College in the Adventure Education department from 2007-2013 instructing such classes as Wilderness Leadership, Avalanche Forecasting, Rock Climbing, Alpine Mountaineering, and Ski Mountaineering. Chris is a Certified AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guide, the highest credential for mountain guiding in the world. He obtained
his professional Level 3 Avalanche Certification from the American
Avalanche Institute in 2011 and is a professional member of the American Avalanche Association. He has guided and instructed in the lower 48, Alaska, Canada, the Alps, and Antarctica. He also works as a ski guide and avalanche educator for Sun Valley Trekking during the winters.

Dustin Dyer


Dustin grew up in the hills of Evergreen, Colorado spending more time outside than in since the beginning. Skiing from age 3 and snowboarding since 14, snow has been the backdrop to most of his life. After a bear ate his car on a backpacking trip in 2003, he basically never came out of the mountains and has been following a diverse outdoor career path centered on maximum adventure ever since. He spent his 20s teaching rock climbing and trying to find the single best climb in the world. As the allure of living in a Subaru year-round faded, he has dived into being a full-time educator and businessman. Dustin has become a passionate
avalanche educator and splitboard instructor. He has taught recreational courses for the past 5 seasons. Dustin is based out of Estes Park, CO and is a co-owner of Kent Mountain Adventure Center. He now brings his
expertise to Southwest Colorado in the winter as he teaches recreational courses for SAS.

Jayson-Simons Jones


Jayson is one of a handful of American IFMGA / UIAGM Mountain Guides is based out of Boulder, Colorado and is the lead for the international program at Colorado Mountain School. Jayson has been the Owner/Operator of Crested Butte Mountain Guides from 2007-2014, until he sold the company to local Irwin Guides.  Jayson consistently guides internationally and with a focus on Europe. He is a past member of the Crested Butte Professional Ski Patrol; holds a Colorado Blaster’s  License for Avalanche Control work & was a past  Forecaster and the Board Member for the Crested Butte Avalanche Center. Jayson is an AIARE Level 1 and Level 2 Course Leader, and holds an AIARE Level 3  Certification as well. He has been heavily involved in AIARE over the past 10 years, teaching multiple different course formats and in different places during that time, as well as being involved in some of the curriculum development for AIARE.

Jim Donovan


Jim served as the Executive Director of the Silverton Avalanche School for thirteen years. . He completed Level 3 professional avalanche certification and over the course of his career, has taught all levels of avalanche education. He took his first avalanche course in 1989. He has been an A3 Avalanche Professional Member since 2010. He has a lifelong passion for mountaineering and backcountry skiing and mountain rescue.  He contributes to the development of custom courses and teaches for both the pro and industrial programs. He is a Certified Emergency Manager for the State of Colorado and is a registered EMT. He has extensive rope rescue and rope access experience and holds SPRAT and NFPA certifications.  He has published scientific research in the field of conservation biology, developed a pioneering project on rescue informatics and has worked and played in a wide range of remote mountain locations. Jim currently serves on SAS’s Board of Directors and on committees for A3, the AMGA and ICAR. He has been featured in Powder Magazine, "The Human Factor 2.0" for his avalanche rescue work.

Jimmy Tart


Jimmy works as a guide, is the Snow Safety Director at Majestic Heli Ski in Alaska, and in the Snow Safety Department at Park City Powder Cats in Utah. He is also on the roster at Inspired Summit Adventures in Utah. Previously, Jimmy spent 16 years as a Ski Patroller and was a guide at Ski Arpa in Chile. His journey in avalanche education began as a rookie patroller at a mountain with an active avalanche mitigation program. Avalanches became his profession then, and remain to this day. Jimmy learned his profession by keeping his mouth closed and ears open at work, while diligently scrutinizing who he was listening to and pursuing every educational opportunity possible. His favorite part of his profession is that there is no finish line to learning, knowledge and personal growth! Jimmy is motivated to teach avalanche classes because he believes it is his responsibility as a professional to give back to the community that has given so much to him. Other people put energy into his growth as a professional, and he feels he owes it to others to pass that knowledge on to them.

Jonathan Cooper


Jonathan Cooper (“Coop”) grew up in the Pacific Northwest and has been playing in the mountains since he was a teenager. This was about the same time he made the fateful decision to strap a snowboard to his feet, which has led to a lifelong pursuit of powdery turns. Coop started teaching with us in 2019 brings a great mix of education and guiding experience to our team. He has facilitated many circles of students with Northwest Outward Bound School while leading mountaineering expeditions. During the winter months he can be found chasing snow, and passing on his passion for education and the backcountry through teaching avalanche education in southwest Colorado. Similarly, his passion for wilderness medicine has led him to instruct for the Wilderness Medicine Training Center. He also writes reviews for wildsnow.com.

Jonathan Wilson


Mentored by the late Leo Llyod, Silverton Avalanche School is honored to have Jonathan Wilson leading our Rescue Programs. Wilson is a practicing Paramedic with Silverton Ambulance, Durango Fire & Rescue, and Purgatory Resort Patrol. He is an accomplished team leader for both San Juan and La Plata County Search and Rescue. Jonathan is a professional member of the American Avalanche Association and has completed his PRO ONE training. He is a passionate, innovative and impactful educator; course leading and instructing  Avalanche Rescue, the ProAvSAR, Wilderness First Responder, Swiftwater Rescue, Tactical Rescue and Technical Rope Rescue clinics and courses. A student favorite, Jonathan believes in a practical approach to backcountry rescue and wilderness medicine and is undoubtedly one of our most often requested instructors. 
Wilson is a member of the board of directors and an ongoing contributor to the annual Colorado SAR Conference. He has completed award winning research in cutting edge technical rescue tactics & techniques whose impact reaches far beyond Southwest CO. Jonathan has called the San Juans home since 2012. He's been skiing and snowboarding since his childhood in Michigan. He spent 20 years working at sea, but is quick to note he always  prioritizes escaping to the mountains.

Mike Duffy


Mike Duffy is a professional member, certified instructor and U.S. Course provider for the  American Avalanche Association. He has spent over a decade teaching at the American Avalanche Institute, the Alaska Avalanche School and serving as Lead Motorized Instructor and Senior Faculty at Silverton Avalanche School. Duffy is a Rescue/Avalanche team leader for the Vail Mountain Rescue Group. He is a graduate of National Avalanche School, the National Academy of Winter Guiding, completed his AVPRO & Professional Avalanche Search & Rescue certifications. Mike has been a professional mountain snowmobiler for 30 years and is heavily sought for his impactful instruction and inspiring programs. Duffy provides training for Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo, Yamaha and special operation teams from the FBI and US military. Mike spends his free time teaching US Bombardier’s Recreational Products and avalanche seminars nationwide. He is a Backcountry riding instructor, co-founder and qualified instructor for the Motorized Avalanche Professionals and a technical rep for Backcountry Access.

Ryan "Howdy" Howe


Howdy has a warm hearted love for wild landscapes and sharing good times with others.

For the last two and a half decades, he has made a full time livelihood as a guide, avalanche practitioner and educator. Through the patience of mentors, along with plenty of failure and success, he has garnered invaluable experience across a broad spectrum; 

Avalanche mitigation & forecasting, NREMT medical rescue, RFR trained high angle rescue, guide, mentor, trainer and operations manager. His 24+ years of professional field experience include over 1,400 operational days guiding and 1,900 operational days as an avalanche worker. Ryan holds certifications as an EMT, Rigging for Rescue and PRO-2 Avalanche Operations.

When he’s not teaching for SAS, Ryan spends his time on a small family farm, with his love Galena, trying to raise two wild children on home grown food and quality adventure. He runs a four season, local guide service as Operations Manager and Co-Owner at Telluride Mountain Guides. Howdy fills out the calendar as a heli-ski guide for Stellar Adventure Travel, avalanche worker at Telluride Ski Patrol and Grand Canyon dory boatman at OARS. 

Sandy Kobrock


Sandy is a Certified Avalanche Instructor with the American Avalanche Association and an AIARE Course Leader Level 1 and Level 2 and has attended the new AAA Profession Trainers Workshop. Currently, Sandy owns and operates the Pass Creek Yurt offering year-round adventure lodging in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Sandy began the avalanche education portion of her career at: Silverton Avalanche School, Telluride, Babes in the Backcountry (with her hero Betsy Armstrong), CDOT, local SAR, Adams State University – non-motorized and motorized courses. Her first backcountry Level 1 avalanche course was in 1981 from Norm Wilson, Lake Tahoe, CA. Her background also includes: Wilderness First Responder, Professional Ski Patrol Supervisor, Squaw Valley USA, CA in the ’80’s & 90’s, Professional Ski Patrol and Snow Safety Director, Wolf Creek, CO in the mid-90’s, Mountaineering Course Director for Outward Bound 80’s and early 90’s.  Her passion is understanding why we make bad and good decisions and how we can do better both in our lives and in avalanche terrain.

Santiago “Chago” Rodriguez


Founder of Idaho based Avalanche Science, Chago has been a professional avalanche educator since 1996. His background as a Control & System Dynamics Engineer attracted him to soak in everything related to snow science. Chago completed a PhD in Geophysics and snow science from Boise State University, where he is a Cryosphere (frozen water) researcher. Chago is an A3 Certified Instructor, holds a Level Three avalanche certification and has completed the AMGA Ski Guide course. Chago is quick to point out that he loves water in all its forms and in the winter this leads to a life combining science, education and skiing. Chago also works as a ski guide and a snow safety director for multiple backcountry operations and when he’s not chasing frozen liquid, he is Surfer, sailer rock climber mountain biker with a multi-season passion for sharing open spaces with all people.


Brittany Walker Konsella


Brittany's passion for skiing started on the tiny slopes of Boston Mills, Ohio where she made her first turns down its icy man-made runs. Her love for skiing drove her to attend college at CU Boulder where she majored in Chemistry while also competing in Freestyle skiing, followed by 5 years of coaching at Winter Park ski resort. While coaching, Brittany looked to achieve other goals in her skiing at which time she latched onto backcountry skiing. In 2006, Brittany set a goal to ski all of Colorado's 14,000-ft peaks and in 2011 she became the 2nd woman to do so. Since then, she has sought to inspire others to venture into the backcountry. As a former secondary math and science teacher, Brittany is also a life-long educator and now extends those skills to her true passion, skiing and teaching recreation-level avalanche courses. She has co-authored Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes: Colorado with her husband, Frank Konsella, published in 2017 by Mountaineers Books which features 103 routes of varying difficulty throughout the state. Aside from skiing, Brittany also enjoys mountain biking, rock climbing, and just about anything that involves long days in the mountains.

Casey Graham


Casey is a full time IFMGA Licensed Mountain Guide living in the CO front range who leads the military training and recreation programs for the Air Force Academy. He has been immersed in avalanche education and professional operations for 15 years throughout the Southwest, as well as applying his guiding and operational skills in Canada, AK, WA and the Alps.  Casey grew up in the Northeast where he put on skis and never really stepped out of them.  As a downhill racer and an avid explorer of cold mountains in his youth, he developed a love for snowy slopes leading him to a degree in Adventure Education from Green Mountain College, and eventually to CO where the peaks were higher and avalanches far more prevalent. Casey loves teaching and mentoring early career professionals, skiing fast on big mountains, and going far down the rabbit hole of avalanche science and risk management.

Chris Benson


Chris was born in Denver, CO and spent his childhood in Corrales, NM, where he enjoyed spending time outdoors and playing music. After a pivotal experience as an Outward Bound student, he attended Western
State Colorado University, and studied geology. After graduating, he moved up-valley to Crested Butte and focused on guiding, skiing, and snow science. While living in Crested Butte, he got his EMT certification, worked part time for the ski patrol, taught avalanche courses, was an assistant avalanche forecaster, and guided for a cat-ski operation. He also worked for Outward Bound (15 years in total) and eventually became the Southwest Program Director of the Colorado Outward Bound School. During this time, he guided all over the country, including in Washington State, Denali, and the San Juan Mountains. He then pursued a graduate degree at Northern Arizona University in Geology, focusing on modern and past climate change in the Alaskan Arctic by reconstructing glacier activity through lake sediments and moraines. He now works part time for the USGS in Moab, UT focusing on soil-geomorphology.

Chris Dickson


Chris is a ski guide, avalanche educator, and snow nerd based out of Telluride, CO. After growing up in the rolling hills of Massachusetts, a passion for mountainous landscapes and playing with gravity eventually drew Chris to the promised land of Colorado and the hallowed slopes and peaks of the San Juans. Along the way, Chris has worked at college outdoor programs, instructed over 60 weeks of field courses for NOLS, and has made a living as an AMGA Apprentice Rock and Ski Guide. His passion for helping people discover their fullest potential through challenging adventures in the outdoors has given him immense fulfillment over the years. A student favorite, his passion, excitement and authenticity define his work with SAS. When he is not teaching or guiding others, you can find Chris with his head buried in a snowpit, gathering critical information to share with the local backcountry community through his weekly snow and avalanche podcast, the San Juan Snowcast.

John Chapman

Intern & Safety Officer

Bio coming soon.

Colton Frasier


Colton grew up just outside of Denver and fell in love with snow at an early age when he was strapped to skis at the tender age of 1. Colton has worked as a Young Adult Patroller at Copper Mountain and as a Lift Operator in Steamboat Springs. In 2019 he began his professional career in avalanche education when he moved to the center of the snow and avalanche universe, Silverton Colorado. Colton was the intern at Silverton Avalanche School for the 2019/2020 season, the safety officer for the 2021/2022 season, and is currently a recreational instructor. He is also a volunteer EMT with Silverton Medical Rescue and a member of San Juan County Search and Rescue as well as training for his AMGA Ski Guide Certification.

Dominic Rickicki


Transplanted from rural western NY, Dom fostered a love for snowboarding in terrible conditions at the age of 11. That passion for recreating outdoors and experiencing the mountains in all their forms eventually led him to the Adirondack mountains where he attended Paul Smith's College and began venturing into the backcountry, rock climbing, and ice climbing. As a student Dom had the good fortune of learning from guides through classes and personal friendship. Grateful for how much those guides helped him early in his career, and their role in his life, he decided to pursue a career in guiding himself to be that person for others.   

Currently Dom lives in Estes Park, Colorado where he is the head guide at KMAC Guides, teaching rock climbing and backcountry skiing skills. When he's not in Estes Park, Dom also works in the cascades guiding trips on Rainier, Baker and other peaks in the North Cascades. Dom is an AMGA certified Rock Guide and Apprentice Alpine and Ski Guide.

Eddie Schoen


Eddie is an IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide with a problematic dependency on good coffee and pizza. He has worked and trained across the globe in a variety of snow packs including Japan, Alaska, the European Alps, Canada and now primarily spends winters splitting time between Colorado and Washington. A perpetual student, he has completed professional level avalanche training in both the United States and Canada. Outside of guiding, Eddie extends his work in the avalanche industry as a project manager for Wyssen Avalanche Control where he manages the installation of Remote Avalanche Control Systems (RACS) for a variety of clients including ski areas, transportation departments, and mining operations. Also a former ski patroller, he is able to bring a breadth of experience to aspiring snow professionals and passionate snow enthusiasts with an understanding of avalanche risk management across the many different applications that comprise our industry.

Emma Donharl


Emma grew up in Pagosa Springs, learning to ski and play at Wolf Creek Ski Area. She fell in love with running rivers in the summer and skiing in the winter. She has been a professional river guide for 7 years and has worked in various departments around Purgatory Resort. She is a current ski patroller at the resort. She is an WFR, EMT-B, and swift water certified. When she’s not working on the mountain or the rivers, she is playing on them!

Kaylee Walden


A born and bred Montanan, Kaylee has always tended to a deeply rooted love for wild places. She first clicked into skis before the age of two, and the pursuit of peaks and powder has shaped the entire trajectory of her life. She first encountered snow science and avalanches at a young age while following around her ski patroller dad on deep days, and has been obsessively backcountry skiing for the past decade. She has followed the draw of big mountains around the world, skiing and climbing in Alaska, the Alps, Japan, New Zealand, Nepal, and across the American West, developing a reverence for high peaks and respect for navigating risk in the backcountry. She studied Writing and French at MSU –Bozeman, passions that she continues to cultivate.
She has molded her love for the mountains into a progression into guiding amid other career pursuits, since 2015. She is an Apprentice AMGA Ski Guide and holds a SAS Pro-1 Certification and Instructor Training, among other certifications. When not teaching recreational courses for SAS, Kaylee guides backcountry skiing and other alpine activities around Telluride, Colorado and mountaineering and skiing in the Alaska Range for Mountain Trip, including several trips to the summit of Denali. Kaylee is especially passionate about women’s specific education and amplifying and empowering women in the outdoors. Her stoke is endless for the upcoming winter with SAS, and she couldn’t be happier to be part of such an inspiring team of snow professionals.

Maddie Crowell


Maddie was born and raised on Hastings Mesa, just outside Telluride, Colorado. Growing up with the San Juans in her backyard she has always had a work hard, play hard mentality. Her parents strapped a pair of skis on her feet at the the age of 2 and there was no looking back. While she raced competitively in high school, she switched her focus to big mountain and backcountry skiing when she moved British Columbia to attend university. After graduating from the University of British Columbia, Maddie spent three summers working as a field biologist on Vancouver Island. She returned to Colorado in 2017 and decided to call Telluride her home base again. She now spends the summers working as a mountain guide on Mt. Shasta in northern California, on Denali in Alaska and locally in Telluride. In the winters Maddie guides as a cat-skiing guide for the Cimarron Mountain Club, a heli-guide for Helitrax and in the backcountry for Mountain Trip.  Maddie holds her Canadian Avalanche Association Level 1 and 2 Operational Avalanche certification, Wilderness First Responder and is currently an AMGA Assistant Ski + Apprentice Alpine, and Rock guide. She is a member of the Salomon Ambassador Team and is stoked to join the Silverton Avalanche School team this upcoming winter!

Matt Glick


Matt grew up in Durango, CO and graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BS in Sociology and Environmental Science. He has always had a passion and appreciation for snow and the San Juan Mountains. He has over 25 years of backcountry ski experience. As a “little”, “grom” or whatever you call tiny kids on snow, he remembers piling on the free shuttle bus in Durango and spending countless weekends at Purgatory with friends and family. Purgatory will always have a special place in his heart as well as Durango. Over the years, he has travelled throughout all snowpacks and climates searching for the best snow on earth. BC being at the top of the list. During these experiences, he has participated in numerous ski touring ops (hut based), cat skiing ops, heli ops and resorts. There is a lot to gain in field experience. His classroom education started at SAS and most classes have continued there. Starting with AIARE Rec 1/ Rec 2 + big mountain, companion rescue and most recently A3 Pro 1. He is currently a guide with Silverton Powder Cats, outside of Silverton, Co. a cat skiing and guiding operation. Matt is an A3 pro member and also sits on the Board of Directors at Silverton Avalanche School. Matts mode of transport on the snow is skiing, ski touring and some assisted sled skiing.
Matt has also worked with Durango Fire and Rescue as a FF/Medic as both a volunteer and paid resource. Matt also gained guiding experience when he spent several years guiding with Mountain Water Rafting on both the Animas (upper/lower) and Piedra (upper/lower) rivers. When not working or playing, you would likely find Matt at home, hanging out with his family. He is married to a school teacher, has two daughters and two four legged friends; they all live on a few acres outside of Durango. He is stoked to be working with SAS this season.

Robert “SP” Parker


Robert “SP” Parker (PRO) was born in New Zealand in the 1950s. While attending the University of Auckland, he discovered climbing with the university tramping (that’s “backpacking” to Americans) club. He immediately forgot about everything else. After years of battling the rain in the Southern Alps and the Darran Mountains he a flock of fellow New Zealanders relocated to Yosemite Valley in 1979. Once in the USA, it was clear that California was “it.” A year in England confirmed this decision. He traveled the US climbing in all the great places: Yosemite, Tuolumne, Colorado, Joshua Tree, Devils Tower, Canada. He then explored regions of greater latitude such as Baffin Island and Bellingham, Washington (where he worked for the American Alpine Institute), only to later return “home” to the Eastern Sierra. SP took his first avalanche course in 1982 with Sierra avi legend Norm Wilson. Since then, he has worked his way through most of the American Professional Level programs as also many Canadian ones. This learning has been combined with guiding and mountain experience throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Antarctica and South America. But at this point in life he has discovered the truth in the saying, “The more you learn the less you know”, and is open to new experiences and ideas as well as seeing his role as mentoring new mountain users so that they can travel safely in the mountains and have as rewarding a career in the hills as he has.

Mark Mueller


Mark grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and began skiing in high school. After moving to Tahoe, an early encounter with an avalanche began a decades-long interest in the world of snow. His professional snow career began at Palisades Tahoe where he spent 15 years including 12 years as Ski Patrol Director. An opportunity to focus just on snow and avalanches opened up when the Colorado Avalanche Information Center began its collaboration with the Colorado Department of Transportation providing highway avalanche forecasters. Mark recently retired after serving 27 winters monitoring avalanche hazard on Wolf Creek, Monarch, Cumbres/La Manga, and Slumgullion Passes. 

Related experience includes one winter on the Wolf Creek Ski Patrol between Palisades Tahoe and CAIC. Mark served as Executive Director of the American Avalanche Association from 2001- 2013. 

Mark and his wife Sandy Kobrock (also an instructor with the Silverton Avalanche School) live in Pagosa and own Wolf Creek Backcountry and the Pass Creek Yurt operating in the Divide District of the Rio Grande National Forest. 

Retirement now affords us the opportunity to travel, see, and ski in the western US and beyond. Retirement also affords Mark to share his knowledge and experiences to students in an educational capacity.

Travis McGrath


Travis and his siblings were blessed to have grown up in Durango with the natural areas of the Four Corners as their backyard.  In 1993, two months after acquiring his drivers license, Travis attended his first Level 1 avalanche seminar with the Silverton Avalanche School. This experience set the stage for a lifetime of exploring the backcountry on skis. After high school, Travis eschewed college and chose to pursue certification as a Grand Canyon River Guide, a role he enjoyed for over a decade.  When he wasn’t on the river, Travis worked winters as a ski patrolman. This lifestyle provided him ample time in the shoulder seasons to enjoy traveling and other pursuits of passion in the outdoors.  


In 2005, Travis completed a front range based nursing program and circled back to life in the Four Corners.  For the past 9 years, Travis has blended his personal passion for the outdoors with his professional excellence as a flight nurse with Flight For Life Colorado. His remarkable journey; from ski patroller to nursing student, from backcountry rescuer to hospital work, has provided Travis with an amazing education and deep well of experience that benefits SAS students.  When he’s not teaching, Travis and his wife's passion for the outdoors continues to grow as they introduce their two wild boys to all things nature.

Zach Moore


Bio to come.

Matt Wilber


Bio to come.

John Reller


Bio to come.

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114 East 12th Street
Silverton, CO 81433