Weekly Summaries are underway!

CBAC Announcements, Backcountry Notes

Our CBAC interns, Jack Caprio and Jared Berman, will be producing weekly snowpack summaries every Friday under the guidance of our forecast staff.  The summaries are a great resource for tracking the evolution of the snowpack and avalanche activity over the course of the winter.  You can view the summaries under the “Observations” tab here or under the “Conditions Blog” tab on our forecast page. Below is a teaser of this week’s summary.

New forecast platform

CBAC Announcements, Avi Blog, Backcountry Notes

We have a few exciting changes to announce as we gear up for winter, including a new forecast platform and new forecast zones!

Forecast Platform

We are adopting the National Avalanche Center’s new forecast platform.  The new platform has some great upgrades for our users to help us better communicate our safety messages to you.

  • It’s mobile-friendly.  More and more of our users are now accessing the forecast from their phones. The new forecast pages will now adjust to fit your phone or tablet, making it easier to read our forecasts on the go.
  • Better media.  We now have the ability to add photos, videos, and captions within portions of the forecast to help illustrate avalanche problems or travel advice more clearly to you.
  • Bottom line and problem descriptions. While the basic layout of the forecast page will look similar to years past, this platform allows us to add a bottom line and problem descriptions.  The bottom line will highlight the key points of the forecast, and the problem descriptions allow us to provide dynamic travel advice for each avalanche problem as conditions evolve.
  • Conditions blog.  We’re experimenting with a “Conditions Blog” tab that can accompany the forecasts.  This is where we will provide weekly summaries and bonus material that supplements the forecast. More info for you at your fingertips!
  • Consistency.  There are about 8 or 9 other avalanche centers around the country that are adopting the same platform.  If you go skiing or riding in the Sawtooths, or Cascades, or Sierras, or any number of other mountain regions around the West, you can expect to see avalanche information presented in the same format as ours.  That makes it easier for you to digest the info and communicate with your partners.

New Forecast Zones

This map, which lives on our homepage, will show the daily avalanche danger rating for each of the two forecast zones. Clicking on a forecast zone will lead you straight to the forecast.

As most of our regular users know, the Crested Butte backcountry often develops into distinct snow climates: one with a deeper snowpack to the west and north of town, and one with a shallower snowpack near, east, and south of town.  In the past, we often use the text to describe nuances between the snow-favored parts of the forecast area and the drier parts of the forecast area.  Now, with our new forecast platform, we are integrating two forecast zones: the Northwest Mountains and Southeast Mountains.   This change allows our forecasters to better highlight spatial differences in the avalanche danger, travel advice, or size and distribution of avalanche problems.   We divided the zones based on our historical understanding of where the deeper and shallower snowpacks commonly develop.  Our homepage has a map of the forecast zones to reference these boundaries.   The Northwest Mountains include the snow belts of the Anthracite Range, Kebler Pass, Ruby Range, and Paradise Divide.  The Southeast Mountains include the drier parts of our forecast area such as Cement Creek, Brush Creek, the Gothic area, and some terrain close to town such as Red Lady Bowl, Climax Chutes, Coneys, and Snodgrass.  Our forecast team expects that there will be plenty of days where the forecasts for each zone will be exactly the same.  However, there will also be days where we highlight important differences.  For you, it’s simple. Click on the forecast map or select the forecast zone for the region that you plan to travel in for the day. That will lead you to the most current and relevant information.  Our detailed forecast discussion will be the same across both forecast zones to simplify the material for those folks who enjoy following the progression of the snowpack on a daily basis.  And as a reminder, these are regional forecasts that generalize conditions across a large area.  Although they should serve as a starting point for planning your day, you are responsible for assessing conditions on a slope by slope basis to minimize your avalanche risk.

Feel free to shoot us a message if you have questions about any of these changes!  cbavalanche@gmail.com


Zach Guy

CBAC Lead Forecaster

Beacon Brush-Up

CB Avalanche Center Announcements

Crested Butte Community School
December 9th, 2016

FREE backcountry rescue and survival skills, followed by beer and gear at the Alpineer.

Join the CBAC for the 2017 Beacon Brush Up at Crested Butte Community School.  All skill levels invited and encouraged to attend.  Presented by Irwin Guides.


Schedule of Events  (Sign up at Awareness Night or just show up day of)

  • 9:00 – 10:00. Brand Specific Beacon Demo and Training from Ortovox, BCA, and Pieps.
  • 10:00 – 3:00  Beacon Park practice area.  Hands on training from the pros.
  • 10:00-3:00.  Rescue scenarios (~15 – 30 minutes each) to challenge you and your partners through all aspects of backcountry rescue.
  • 10:00-3:00. Emergency survival skills. Rescue sleds, backcountry shelters, pack contents, etc
  • 3:00-6:00.  Food, beer, and discounted gear at the Alpineer
  • 4:00 Raffle at the Alpineer.  Tickets awarded for participation.

Are your rescue skills dialed?


Beacon Brushup Raffle!

Beacon Brushup Raffle!


Welcome Ben Pritchett as the new ED and Lead Forecaster for CBAC!

CBAC Announcements, News

We are excited to announce our new executive director and lead forecaster:  Ben Pritchett.  Ben brings a broad skill-set and diverse experience in the avalanche industry to the CBAC.  In the past 12 years, Ben has served as the program coordinator for AIARE and avalanche education coordinator for the CAIC, gaining valuable experience working with backcountry users, educators, and forecasters around the country.  Ben is a former forecaster for the CBAC and leads the forecasting program for the Grand Traverse.  He also owns and runs a backcountry guiding business here in Crested Butte.  Ben’s industry connections and local understanding of our terrain, weather, and snowpack will contribute to the quality of our forecast products.  Ben will be replacing Zach Guy who is stepping down from the role and will be starting as the director of the Flathead Avalanche Center in Montana this spring.

Ben Pritchett at the 2017 Grand Traverse.



Executive Director/ Lead Forecaster Job Announcement

CBAC Announcements, News

The Crested Butte Avalanche Center (CBAC) is seeking to fill the positions of Executive Director and Lead Avalanche Forecaster to begin in the spring or fall of 2017.   The ideal candidate will fill both roles, but we encourage those interested in only one of the roles to apply. The Director/Lead Forecaster of the CBAC is a full-time, seasonal position. The incumbent will oversee all operations of the CBAC including the creation of avalanche advisories, avalanche education and outreach, fundraising, and collaborative efforts, while supervising employees, including other avalanche specialists.

The position is salaried for a 6 month season (October 15 through April 15), with some part-time work commitments required during the off-season.  Starting salary will range from $18,000 to $25,000, depending on qualifications and experience.  See below for job description and desired qualifications. For questions about the position or job qualifications, contact Zach Guy (zach.guy@gmail.com).  To submit an application, please send a complete resume, cover letter, and at least three references to cbavalanche@gmail.com.  Applications are due by February 3rd, 2017. Depending on availability of applicants, the position will begin in March of 2017 or October of 2017.

The Crested Butte Avalanche Center’s (CBAC) sole purpose is to prevent the loss of life, limb, and property to natural and triggered occurrence of avalanches in the backcountry surrounding Crested Butte. CBAC is a 501 (c) 3 non profit organization. The Crested Butte Avalanche Center is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.


EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR  job description

  • Working with the Board of Directors, oversee, plan, and manage an operational budget.
  • Supervise and manage all staff (including forecasters and development director), recruit and hire staff, assign/schedule work, communicate performance expectations and evaluate performance to staff, develop performance improvement plans, resolve informal complaints, and ensure that subordinate staff are trained and coached to assigned work in accordance with job descriptions and expectations.
  • Plan and budget professional education and training opportunities for staff, including ISSW, CSAW, and other courses.
  • Write, acquire, and manage grants to fund projects and program work
  • Design sponsorship packages and requests and seek sponsorship opportunities by fostering relationships with local, regional, and national businesses and partners.
  • Lead in the organization, promotion, coordination, and execution of fundraising, outreach, and educational events.  Coordinate and meet with CBAC board of directors to plan, organize, or review events and fundraising.
  • Attend, present at, or set up booths at various events to enhance outreach, such as the outdoor industry films, info fairs, Avalanche Awareness Nights, and other public or non-profit events.
  • Establish and promote private donation opportunities through membership drives, meetings, events, website, and personal communication.  Seek to design or conduct new or alternative fundraising opportunities through events, grants, sponsorships, and donors.
  • Seek and produce new or progressive education or outreach opportunities or events for the public
  • Oversee and carry out office space rental and setup, and computer and internet support.
  • Oversee licenses, insurance, workman’s compensation, and other operational logistics.
  • Provide ongoing guidance, coordination, and training to staff and volunteers.
  • Oversee the purchase, licensing, insurance, maintenance, storage, and management of CBAC equipment, including snowmobiles, snow safety, and field equipment.


Minimum Qualifications:

  1. Bachelor’s or higher degree in a science related field.
  2. AIARE Level 3 certification, AAA AVPRO, CAA Level 2, or equivalent experience/certification.
  3. Three years of professional snowpack evaluation experience.
  4. Proven proficiency in weather forecasting, field observations, public communication, and computer skills.

Job Description:

  • Create and oversee the production of daily mountain weather and avalanche advisories/warnings for a large geographic area surrounding Crested Butte, CO.
  • Provide expert leadership and guidance in regards to analyzing the snowpack to direct and conduct field work and to oversee the development of avalanche advisories and avalanche warnings.
  • Design, prepare, and conduct training exercises for staff, including safety protocols, field work standards, and workshops in writing, weather forecasting, avalanche danger and problems, video production and editing, website design, and more.
  • Oversee and supervise the safety and quality of forecaster fieldwork by establishing safety and communication protocols for fieldwork.
  • Manage the “Pro Observers Program” and internship program.
  • Manage, analyze, and oversee the recording and maintenance of weather, snowpack, and avalanche data for producing and assessing the quality of forecasts, pattern identification, and scientific studies.
  • Manage and maintain CBAC’s website (www.cbavalanchecenter.org) and implement website improvements using a working knowledge of safety messaging and design, computers, internet applications, word processing, and spreadsheets
  • Create, edit, and manage messaging to the public through multiple media platforms including website, email, social media platforms, radio and phone recordings, and print.
  • Present at or lead in CBAC educational/ awareness classes or events to the general public using power points, videos, in-field demonstrations, and public speaking.
  • Facilitate and maintain CBAC’s collaboration and partnership with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) and the National Avalanche Center (NAC) through regular communication, data and information sharing, and more.
  • Manage informal collaborations and mutually benefiting partnerships between local ski resort and guiding operations.
  • Oversee the maintenance and operation of CBAC weather stations within the forecast area.
  • Write or contribute content to avalanche related articles in local, regional, and national newspapers, magazines, journals, and blogs.
  • Design and conduct research to improve forecast quality or promote the advancement of scientific understanding of snow and avalanches.  Seek to improve or integrate forecasts and safety messaging to the community via alternative or new methods.
  • Maintain and dispense to forecast staff a professional knowledge of snow physics including snow metamorphism, the distribution patterns of common weak layers, the mechanics of slab failure and classification of snow crystals by attending conferences, workshops, and reviewing literature, journal articles, conference proceedings, and other media.
  • Attend and/or review minutes and proceedings from industry related meetings, such as ISSW, National Avalanche Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and more to stay current with industry policies, standards, and updates.
  • Provide daily feedback on the accuracy and quality of staff-produced avalanche forecasts. Lead forecaster meetings and discussions between staff pertaining to avalanche concerns and forecasts.
  • Establish, maintain, and manage a study plot to aid in snowpack analysis and studies for solving avalanche problems.
  • Respond to avalanche incidents, conduct accident site investigations and interviews, and produce reports of avalanche accidents to industry standards.
  • Produce season-end summaries and reports including season snowpack and avalanche summaries and user statistics and reports.
  • Respond to media inquiries about avalanche conditions or accidents. Respond to avalanche related requests and inquiries, such as requests for recreational or professional training, educational presentations, feedback on publications, and more.
  • Coordinate the relationship with and production of newspaper, radio, and television broadcasts and public service announcements for avalanche information and warnings.
  • Oversees and review daily Skype meetings between CBAC and CAIC staff to ensure compliance, quality, and comprehension of forecast problems
  • During periods of dangerous avalanche conditions, monitor conditions throughout the day and communicate with CAIC to issue watches and warnings.  Relay avalanche watches and warnings through all media and public messaging outlets.
  • Analyze, evaluate, and verify raw meteorological, snowpack, and avalanche data from instruments and observations to write and issue daily public weather and avalanche advisories for regional snow stability and avalanche hazards.  Avalanche advisories include avalanche danger ratings for three elevation bands, avalanche problems (size, distribution, and likelihood), travel advice, and a detailed discussion.
  • Evaluate weather maps and models, weather forecast products, and data for producing daily mountain weather forecasts to be used in conjunction with avalanche advisories.
  • While working in harsh winter environments, use expert skills in snowmobile and alpine ski touring to travel through steep, avalanche terrain in order to conduct fieldwork and avalanche condition assessments.  Regularly operate snowmobiles and skis in deep powder, icy conditions, and difficult terrain, including but not limited to steep slopes, rough terrain, poor visibility, and areas with high avalanche danger.  
  • Perform basic repairs on snowmobiles. 
  • Observe, collect, and measure meteorological, snow, and avalanche phenomena with scientific equipment and instrumentation while traveling through backcountry terrain.  Conduct snow stability tests and record snowpack observations in the field to industry standards.
  • Publish snowpack, weather, and avalanche observations on CBAC and CAIC’s data platforms, including media, snow profiles, and video content for improved comprehension by the public. Film, edit, and publish videos pertaining to avalanche conditions.  
  • Analyze and review data to confirm and improve the accuracy and efficacy of daily forecasts and products.
  • Disseminate daily avalanche advisories through website, email, social media platforms, telephone, public radio, and other outlets.