Sarah Carpenter is a lead avalanche course instructor and an owner of AAI.
Sarah started her career in the world of snow and avalanches as a ski patroller at Bridger Bowl. She moved to the Tetons soon after to patrol, guide and teach avalanche courses. She hasn’t left the Teton Valley since.
She began teaching for avalanche education pioneer, Rod Newcomb and AAI over 20 years ago. After a decade of teaching, Sarah, Don Carpenter, and Don Sharaf purchased AAI from Rod. Since that time the team has worked hard to preserve and advance Rod’s legacy and set the standard for avalanche education.
“It has been an amazing journey to grow and expand AAI. The people that I get to work with are phenomenal. I am so proud to be a part of the AAI team.”
Sarah is truly passionate about helping others understand and connect with the mountains.
What avalanche courses do you teach?
I teach professional and recreational avalanche courses for AAI. I also teach for our military program, as well as our youth program. Currently, I fill in where I’m needed, but I’ve been teaching a variety of courses for 15-20 years for AAI.
What is your favorite snow story?
There are so many. I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one. I love building solid partnerships with people in the mountains. It’s a process that takes time. I have learned that I ski simple, low consequence terrain with new partners and work my way up into more complex terrain, provided our partnership is working. To me, being able to communicate effectively with a partner in the mountains is so important. That trust-building takes time and it builds lifelong friendships. When I think about my favorite snow-related stories, it all goes back to the people I travel with.
What was the path that led you to avalanche education?
I started my career in the world of snow and avalanches as a ski patroller at Bridger Bowl. I loved that job…getting up early and running avalanche mitigation routes, working with an amazing team, learning from people with such a depth of experience. It was a dream job. After working at Bridger for a couple years, I patrolled at the Yellowstone Club for a bit and then moved to the Tetons to guide, teach avalanche courses, and work winter courses for NOLS. I haven’t left Teton Valley since that migration.
Why do you enjoy teaching?
I love teaching courses because it unlocks this whole world for people. I feel privileged that I spend so much time in the mountains. I love being able to share this with others – from beginner recreationists to seasoned avalanche professionals. The world of snow and avalanches is part science and part voodoo magic. I like the opportunity to apply systems and systematic tools to this complex problem. It’s a fascinating, dynamic world that we operate in. I like learning all the time.
What do you do with your offseason?
I run the business side of AAI and work on a wide variety of projects throughout the spring, summer and fall. I travel with my husband, continue to try and learn to surf, paint a ton, and ride my bike. It’s a good life.
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 Sarah, or one of our other amazing instructors check out our full course offerings today.