What avalanche courses do you teach?
What is your favorite snow story?
Hard to nail down one favorite story. Lately, I’ve really been appreciating every day I get out in the mountains in the winter, which is luckily a lot of days. Doesn’t matter if it is knee-deep or boilerplate, every day on skis is a good day in my book. I will say that all of my best days involve skiing with family and friends.
What was the path that led you to avalanche education?
I spent about 10 years in Bozeman ski bumming before I realized that I needed to contribute more to the avalanche world. I had moved out there to get a degree in snow science at MSU, but it took me a while to put that degree to use. Eventually, I became more involved with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, first as a field volunteer, then as an educator, and finally as an intern for the 2018-19 season. I wanted to become more involved in the education world so I was thrilled when AAI brought me on board this season. I earned a Master’s degree in the MSU Dept. of Earth Sciences Snow and Avalanche lab in the spring of 2019, and that has really gotten me more involved in the research community. I am now teaching for AAI, as well as forecasting and teaching for the West Central Montana Avalanche Center in Missoula, MT, and working on several avalanche-related research projects with groups at MSU, Canada, and Norway.
Why do you enjoy teaching?
I think it’s important to remember the snow isn’t nearly as mysterious and secretive as we often like to think. If you look close enough and in the right places, the information is there. The real trick to all this is making good decisions and not allowing yourself to fall into the various pitfalls of being human. I really enjoy sharing my passion with other people who are interested in stepping up their game in the mountains. My background has given me some knowledge that I feel is worth sharing, and it is really satisfying to watch concepts click as people work through an avalanche course. I can remember every instructor I have had for every course I have taken, and each one has contributed to the way I travel in the mountains. Now I hope that I can share some of my experience, and help other people figure out how to get out, have fun, and come home every time.
What do you do with your offseason?
My main hobby in the summertime is landscaping. I also love mountain biking and I fully enjoy a casual day of climbing when the weather is good. My other favorite hobbies! I play a lot of music (mostly bluegrass) and I really enjoy building things. I am currently in the middle of getting our old house in Livingston as close to zero carbon emissions as possible.
Courses With AAI
Our instructors are the core of your experience with the American Avalanche Institute. They bring the science and knowledge of avalanche safety to life in real-world settings. If you’re interested in learning more from Jake, or one of our other amazing instructors check out our full course offerings today.