Meet Your ESAW Presenters: Eric Knoff

Eric Knoff is one of our featured presenters at ESAW. He comes to us from the Gallatin National Forest Avlanche Center. We are very excited to have him join us on November 11 at Fryeburg Academy.

Guiding big mountains in the summer and avalanche forecasting in the winter sounds like an idyllic combination. Eric Knoff seems to have it figured out. Upon receiving his diploma from Montana State University in 2000, Knoff worked for a stint with the NRCS. In 2002, his real education began as he started working with the Snowbird Ski Patrol. In 2009, having caught the attention of his snow mentor Doug Chabot, Eric joined the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, where he currently works. In addition to forecasting for the Gallatin, Eric forecasts for the National Park Service in Glacier National Park, helping the road crew with plowing the Going-To-The-Sun Road.

Climbing has always been a passion for Knoff. In 2003, he began working for Exum Guides in Jackson, WY. In addition to guiding in the Tetons, Eric soon found himself guiding bigger mountains around the world. The consummate guide, desring more than just guiding clients, Eric has instructed at the Khumbu Climbing Center in Nepal. The KCC instructs Nepalese about high-altitude mountaineering, wilderness medecine, and mountain rescue. Recently, he’s given up guiding big mountains and replaced it with his lifelong passion of guiding fishing trips.

When asked about what his favorite past-time, Eric says it’s a toss-up between skiing and fishing. Fishing is relaxing and compared to all the things you have to cram in a ski pack, it’s a lightweight sport and has relativley no objective danger. But on the flip side, fishing doesn’t give you stories like this one:

All-time favorite ski descent was the NE Face of Mt Cannon in Glacier National Park. It was a first descent and special because I skied it with my brother. The face rises 5,000 vertical feet above the Going-to-the Sun Road and has significant exposure due to its 45+ degree slope angle and a 150 foot cliff in the middle of the face. My brother soloed the cliff and belayed me up. While following my brothers footsteps across a snowbridge that spanned a scary moat at the base of cliff, the snowbridge collapsed and I was caught by the rope (I nearly crapped my pants). If I had not been on belay it would have been an ugly situation. We climbed and skied the face without further incident.

Don’t forget to register for ESAW at and have a chance to meet Eric Knoff on november 11!

Look After One Another: Educate Yourself

Now winter is truly coming. In the winter, we must protect ourselves. Look after one another.

-Ned Stark, King of the North


Perhaps the phrase winter is coming has been played out. I’ll admit I’ve used it at least twice and probably even #hashtagged it more than that, but Ned Stark does have a point. Most of us ski and climb with a partner. There are days when I go alone, but I alert someone where I’m going. Most of the time it’s my wife. Sometimes I tell a friend as I’d like to not admit to her what I’m going to do until it’s been done… I digress.

Look after one another. When Frank, Ryan, and I go into the field for work, looking after each other is more important than any data we collect. If one of us fails to go home at the end of the day, we didn’t do our job. I try to instill this on my recreational partners as well. Look after each other, have fun, then get to the summit.

This is not intended to say don’t ski it. In fact, if the time is right, go for it! You and your partners’ (who are looking out for each other) job is to determine go or no go. Just be sure you’re protecting yourself the best you can. One great way to protect yourself is becoming more knowledgeable. The Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop is the perfect venue for this. Come spend the day with snow professionals and start your winter off on the right foot. This is a great event to come to with your ski partner and talk about how excited you are for propagation saw tests, capped columns, Norlun troughs, and rite in the rain notebooks.

We have a stellar line-up of presenters this year returning to the Performing Arts Center at Fryeburg Academy. The lobby will once again be filled with vendors showcasing the latest and greatest. Our friends at Saco River Brewing will be on hand in the evening. While the workshop is aimed at continuing education for snow professionals, all are encouraged to join as this event is a good way to kick of the coming winter.












ESAW – November 11, 2017

Mark your calendars for the annual Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop that is taking place on Saturday, November 11, 2017. We liked our hosts at Fryeburg Academy so much last year that we’re going back to the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center. Check out who will be presenting:

  • Jerry Isaak, born in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, has his masters in Outdoor Education and is currently the chair of Expeditionary Studies at SUNY Plattsburgh. He has traveled the world as a guide and expedition leader for both climbing and skiing. Jerry spends much of his time studying social influences on risk tolerance levels and decision making. Please check out his paper titled Social Media and Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain which he presented at ISSW 2016 in Colorado.
  • Sarah Carpenter is currently co-owner of the American Avalanche Institute as well as one of its instructors. While not running the programs for AAI, she ski guides for Exum and Jackson Hole Mountain Guides.
  • Eric Knoff has forecasted for the Gallatin Avalanche Center since 2009. He has guided for Exum, Rainer Mountaineering Inc., and Adventure Link as well as for the Khumbu Climbing School in Nepal. Eric studies snow with some of the best in Montana and as is such, will happily fill your time informing you about the cross-slope PST.
  • If you follow the weather on Mount Washington, you surely know the name Mike Carmon. Mike graduated from Rutgers in 2008 with a degree in Meteorology and immediately joined the Mount Washington Observatory team. He has been a shift leader since 2014 and a daily resource for our avalanche center.
  • In addition to those above, Frank, Ryan and Helon will also present on their hard work over the last year.

ESAW is a one-day professional development seminar for people working in avalanche safety. It provides a venue for avalanche workers to listen to presentations and discuss new ideas, techniques and technologies with their colleagues. The meeting is intended for avalanche forecasters, ski guides, avalanche education instructors, ski patrollers, students, and researchers, but the meeting is open to anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of avalanche safety. Workshops like this take place all over the country around this time of the year. This is a great opportunity to come and get ready for the upcoming winter with fellow snow geeks from around the country.

Registration for ESAW can be found at Proceeds from ESAW go toward the White Mountain Avalanche Education Fund, a non-profit designed to educate as many people as possible before they go into the mountains.