Welcome to this website developed in partnership with the Friends of Tuckerman Ravine (FOTR), the Mount Washington Avalanche Education Foundation (WMAEF), the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol (MWVSP) and the US Forest Service. The goal of this collaboration is to increase public safety in the mountains during the snowy months.
Paid staff of MWAC are snow rangers employed by the Androscoggin Ranger District of the White Mountain National Forest. The partnership between the USFS and a number of non-profit groups along with community support makes this whole project work!
The Avalanche Center’s public safety priorities are three fold:
- Our primary focus from Oct/Nov until the end of May is to provide snow, weather and avalanche information for the Presidential Range through this website, social media and direct contact with folks in the field.
- The greatest difference between MWAC and other avalanche centers in the west is our responsibility as the lead agency for Search and Rescue. On December 1st of each year the Forest Service takes over responsibility from the State of New Hampshire for all incidents in the Cutler River Drainage on the east side of Mt. Washington.
- Our third emphasis is to serve as a professional avalanche resource for people seeking assistance with snow and avalanche safety in the east. MWAC staff and volunteers assist with research projects, present avalanche awareness programs, present at avalanche courses, provide information to reporters, work with our volunteer search and rescue groups, and coordinate team-based avalanche and mountain rescue trainings. We reach out to the public with presentations on rescue, snow science and mountain safety in multiple venues including the Annual Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop held every Fall.
The collaboration between the various stakeholders of MWAC and snow ranger staff makes clear the dedication to the beautiful and often harsh environment in the Presidential Range. Natures playground can be a source for joy and sometimes sorrow when things go wrong. Our shared mission at MWAC accentuates the Forest Service mission of “caring for the land and serving people”.
Nationally, the role of Snow Rangers has changed dramatically over the years, from field going forecasters and avalanche control specialists to administrating permits for ski areas on public lands. We have retained the important tradition of search and rescue and public contact in our highest use areas while ranging further afield to provide avalanche and mountain safety information for the Presidential Range. MWAC is the only official avalanche center in the US east of the Rockies with one Canadian avalanche center to our north in the Chic Choc Range. We are also the oldest backcountry avalanche forecasting program in the country. Backcountry skiing and winter climbing continue to grow in our area along with the need for avalanche education and forecasting for the range. The end goal is to reduce fatalities due to avalanches through our forecasting and outreach efforts.
Our ability to improve and meet varying demands is directly related to your questions, feedback, and suggestions over the years. Ultimately, MWAC is here to serve the community, so always feel comfortable approaching us and asking any questions that you may have. We look forward to seeing you in the mountains!
Frank Carus, Lead Snow Ranger
Frank came to the avalanche center in 2011 after a diverse early career supporting his climbing and skiing obsessions by guiding and building things out of wood. Frank put his degree in Geography to use guiding climbs and ski mountaineering trips, or taking personal trips to the Alps, Andes, Patagonia and the western States and has worked for most every guide service in the Mount Washington Valley in the process. A summer in the Tetons guiding for Exum Guides broke up the monotony. He has an obvious passion for learning and has taken the AMGA Alpine, Ski and Ski Mountaineering guide courses in addition to being a certified Rock Instructor since 1996. Working vacations take him west to teach technical rope rescue to US Marine climbing instructors through Peak Rescue Institute. Frank is an EMT and has had AIARE and AAI Avalanche course 1, 2 and 3 training.
The human relationship to risk taking is an endless source of fascination for Frank. He has found an ideal career and location to continue this fascination.
Jeff came to MWAC in 2018 but began working professionally in the White Mountains as a mountain guide in 1992, helping people experience rock and ice climbing here in NH, the American West and the European Alps. For years Jeff thought snow was a nuisance, post-holing while getting to the best rock and ice climbs, though he has come to appreciate snow and even prefers ski touring when the snow isn’t Mount-Washington-wind-hammered.
Jeff’s avalanche education began in the 1990’s with Avalanche Levels 1, 2 and 3 learning from experts including Rod Newcomb, Peter Lev and Karl Klassen. Jeff also brings 25 years’ search and rescue experience to the team as a member of Mountain Rescue Service. Jeff has a Bachelor of Science degree, an EMT and has contributed heavily to the development of the MWAC website.
During months of no snow, Jeff enjoys sailing on the coast of Maine, mountain biking, and reading books on behavioral economics. If you see Jeff on the mountain, a good ice breaker is to ask him about building small boats.
Ryan comes to us from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources where he most recently worked as an Avalanche Technician. Ryan’s background is in Environmental Science, but much of his recent experience has been as an Avalanche Specialist / Meteorological Technician. He has held positions in Alaska, California, and Colorado working in support of avalanche education and awareness. Over the years, Ryan has worked a variety of roles in support of dispersed recreation, both for the BLM and USFS. He has worked in the ski industry for 20+ years, and has a great deal to offer to the Mount Washington Avalanche Center and Androscoggin Recreation Team.
Chris is originally a flatlander. Growing up in the middle of Ohio and studying naval architecture and marine engineering (“huh, that seems different and interesting”) eventually pushed him into the mountains (“huh, that seems different and more interesting”). Running away from conventionality led to trail running, then long-distance backpacking, then rock and ice climbing. Chris worked for a handful of trails and recreation organizations, mostly in New England, before landing in the Forest Service world. A couple winters into caretaking the Harvard Cabin on Mount Washington, he finally gave in and started learning to ski on the Sherbie. Chris is a WFR but prefers partners and decisions that don’t require pulling out that toolbox.
If you need to get his attention, start talking about the physics of climbing, ask him about moving large rocks or logs from here to there, or show him a picture of bad trail work.
For the past 20+ years I’ve spent my free time in the mountains, as a free lance photographer, a volunteer rescuer and as an avalanche forecaster. I currently serve on the board of directors and team leader of the Mountain Rescue Service and have recently co-founded the White Mountain Avalanche Education Foundation where I serve as the president. All of these positions and interests have stemmed from decades of climbing, skiing, working and embracing the rugged mountains of Northern New Hampshire, especially in the winter.
In 2010 I started working for the Mount Washington Avalanche Center as a snow ranger/forecaster. Spending early morning hours looking at weather forecasts, collecting field observations and working with a team to produce avalanche forecasts. During the off-season my career as a freelance photographer has me back in the mountains filming and photographing for newspapers, magazines and commercial clients.
Jake Risch, Charter Lifetime Member and President Friends of Tuckerman Ravine
Lily, also known as “that darned dog”, is a crackerjack search tool for the program with a search speed that can better the most honed, snow-nerd in a multi-burial scenario. She is also known to sneak up on unsuspecting hikers on the deck and steal a glove, or a sandwich. She finds the ensuing game of chase to be great fun!