All NAS instructors are recognized experts in their respective fields. All our instructors are professional members of the American Avalanche Association and follow the AAA recommended guidelines for curriculum. 


AtkinsDale Atkins

With more 30 years of experience working with avalanches Dale trains and works with avalanche professionals and mountain rescuers around the world. He has extensive avalanche knowledge and 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 nearly 40 years of mountain rescue experience. Currently, Dale works for RECCO AB. He is also the vice president of the Avalanche Rescue Commission for the International Commission for Avalanche Rescue, and is a professional member and a past president of the American Avalanche Association. 


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Paul Baugher

Paul is the ski patrol director at Crystal Mountain Resort in Washington State and risk manager for Boyne West resorts. Paul 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, and land use agencies. Paul’s work also includes consulting with ski areas across the country on ski safety and risk management issues. Additionally, he is a co-owner and guide with International Mountain Guides (IMG), an AMGA accredited climbing guide service. Paul is the steering committee chairman of the National Avalanche School and a member of the board of the National Avalanche Foundation. Since the 80's, Paul has worked as a 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. He is a former vice president of the American Avalanche Association. Paul received a BA in Economics from the University of Puget Sound in 1978.


Birkeland NewKarl 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.  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 over 30 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 forecasting.  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.


Chabot HeadshotDoug Chabot
Doug received his bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Education from Prescott College in 1986 and is currently the director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center,. From 1990 to 1999 he worked as a professional ski patroller at Bridger Bowl Ski Area in Bozeman, Montana. Since 1995 Doug has worked for the GNFAC as an avalanche specialist. He's also a mountain guide and climber. Doug has been on numerous climbing expeditions to Alaska, Nepal, India, Afghanistan 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.


Evanczyk Photo

Ryan Evanczyk
Ryan got his Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Babson College in 1991. He has worked in a variety of industries from Logistics software consulting to most recently residential construction. Ryan first started working at Arapahoe Basin in 2000 as a volunteer patroller. From there, he quickly became a member of the paid professional staff while continuing with construction during the off season. In 2006, Leif Borgeson hired him onto the Snow Safety team as an Avalanche Technician. He was eventually named the Director of Snow Safety at Arapahoe Basin in the spring of 2013. He now works full-time winter and summer at Arapahoe Basin having hung up his tool belt for weather stations, explosives and avalanches. He is a member of the International Society of Explosive Engineers as well as a member of the American Avalanche Association.


GreeneEthan 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 Guidelines 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.


KellamJanet Kellam
Janet worked with the Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center from 1996 to 2010, taking on the director position in 2000. Under her oversight it developed from a fledgling avalanche center into one of the leading centers in the country. With a degree in environmental biology and an extensive background in alpine and nordic skiing, Janet became the first woman in Idaho to be a licensed lead backcountry ski guide in 1981. She has worked as a heli-ski and backcountry guide, a winter specialist for documentary films and director of operations for Galena Lodge and Nordic Center near Ketchum, Idaho. She has instructed a variety of avalanche classes with a number of established organizations and has a keen interest in professional development avalanche programs.  Janet assisted with FS National Avalanche Center projects, was president of AAA from 2007 to 2010 and served as the NAS Program Director from 2014 - 2016. 



Andy Lapkass With Ayup Photo V2
Andy Lapkass

Andy is the Program Director for the NAS and serves as the Chair for the NAS Steering Committee.  He brings over 20 years of ski patrol experience to the National Avalanche School, many of those years as an avalanche technician in Colorado’s demanding snow climate at Breckenridge Ski Resort (the last several of those years with his avalanche dog, AyUp).  He has taught avalanche courses for AIARE, the AAI, and the AAA (AvPro) and has guided climbing expeditions to many of the great mountain ranges of the world.  Andy has dedicated much of his life exploring, working in, teaching about, and trying to understand the cold, snowy reaches of our planet.


Chris McCollister

Chris works both as ski area avalanche forecaster for Jackson Hole Resort and as a backcountry forecaster for the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center. He has a MS in Physical Geography with an emphasis on GIS. Chris developed an innovative GIS program that integrated historical weather and avalanche data for Jackson Hole Resort. He has been a field instructor for the NAS since 2001.


Mike Rheam

Mike Rheam 

Mike works as the Avalanche Hazard Reduction Leader for Jackson Hole Ski   Patrol and as a forcaster 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.



Scott Savage Photo

Scott Savage 
Scott managed to avoid being caught in an avalanche while earning degrees in Chemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the 1980’s.  Scott spent most of the 1990’s and 2000’s as an avalanche forecaster and snow safety director at Big Sky Resort in Montana, spending thousands of days evaluating conditions and managing avalanche hazard.  While recovering from a series of knee surgeries a few years ago, he focused on studying his and other avalanche professionals’ experiences, mistakes, and decision-making.  Scott has presented at several ISSW’s, spoken at local and regional avalanche awareness events, and organized and instructed professional development seminars.  Scott is the Secretary of the American Avalanche Association and resides in Stanley, ID with his wife and son.  He’s currently working as a forecaster at the Sawtooth Avalanche Center in Ketchum.   


 Photo Trautman

Simon Trautman

Simon works as the National Avalanche Specialist at the Forest Service National Avalanche Center.  He has an MS in Geology from Montana State University and has worked as an avalanche forecaster for the Moonlight Basin ski patrol, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, and the Sawtooth Avalanche Center.  He was the Director of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center from 2012-2014. Simon splits his time between Hailey, ID and Bellingham, WA.


TremperBruce 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 ski racing career (Jr. National Ski Team, US Ski Team Talent Squad and NCAA Division Downhill Champion), he started doing avalanche control at Bridger Bowl Ski Area in Bozeman, Montana in 1978. He earned a Master’s Degree in geology from Montana State University and studied avalanches under Dr. John Montagne and Dr. Bob Brown. He then took over as the Director of Avalanche Control at Big Sky Ski Area in Montana, then worked as a backcountry avalanche forecaster for the Alaska Avalanche Center and has been the Director of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center since 1986. He has published several scientific papers on various avalanche topics, was the editor of The Avalanche Review for six years and has been an invited speaker and consultant in Japan, Norway and Canada. He was in charge of coordinating backcountry avalanche safety for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. He produced the avalanche education video “Winning the Avalanche Game” and has written two books on the subject; “Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain” and "Avalanche Essentails" both published by Mountaineers Books. He has been featured on more than a dozen national and international television documentaries about avalanches including programs produced by National Geographic, PBS, Discovery Channel and is regularly interviewed by many of the national network news programs.

Wendy Headshot

Wendy Wagner

Wendy is the Director of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Center based in Girdwood, Alaska. She began her stint in Alaska, as well as her avalanche forecasting career, during the 2010/11 winter season. Wendy grew up in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah before spending 8 years competitive cross-country ski racing, which resulted in two Olympic berths. She came back to Utah in 2006 and earned a Master’s Degree in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Utah, with an emphasis in mountain weather and snow science. Wendy is a AAA professional member and has presented at the Mountain Meteorological Conference and multiple ISSW’s. Spare time is spent perfecting her ski and snowmachine powder skills as well as geeking out over snow grains.