What avalanche courses do you teach?

I am a certified Avalanche Course Instructor and teach Avalanche Professional Level 1, Avalanche Professional Level 2, Recreational Avalanche Level 1, Recreational Avalanche Level 2

What is your favorite snow story?

My first foray into the backcountry outside of the Telluride ski area was in March 2003. It was my first winter of skiing, learning to ski, that is, and a friend of mine took me into Bear Creek. It was a new world out there, big, steep, wide-open, a world of endless white, and I fell in love with it. After that first day, I was hooked and started skiing in the backcountry a lot. It wasn’t the best way to learn to ski, but, then again, I learned a whole lot more out there than just skiing…

What was the path that led you to avalanche education?  

After taking my Level 2 Avalanche Certification in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and spending several years on ski patrol, I was really intrigued by the world of snow and avalanches. As a Physicist by training, I had in fact asked at one point an early mentor from the Silverton area, Chris Landry, about getting into snow science and going back to school for a PhD program at MSU. He said no, don’t do it. He discouraged me. I took my Level 3 Avalanche Certification with AAI in 2011. I was impressed, and I wanted to be part of the team. AAI didn’t discourage me. Instead, Don, Don, and Sarah welcomed me, and they allowed me to learn and grow under their mentorship. I became an avalanche course instructor in 2014, after moving to Jackson full time. 

Why do you enjoy teaching?

I am an IFMGA mountain guide and work in the mountains year-round. Becoming a guide was a childhood dream that I never thought would become a reality. Now it is, and I even get to pass that dream forward by teaching. Education is really important to me, and combining teaching and guiding is where I am most happy. The mountains are my work, my passion, my home. To share that with people is really rewarding.  

What do you do with your offseason?

What off-season? Oh you mean climbing season 🙂 … In my free time I am currently obsessed with learning to speak French.


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 Karen, or one of our other amazing instructors check out our full course offerings today.

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 fromone of our amazing instructors check out our full course offerings today.