The mission of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center is to provide actionable avalanche and mountain weather information for people recreating, working, or traveling in the Sawtooth National Forest and surrounding areas.
We begin daily avalanche forecasts in the fall after enough snow accumulates in the mountains for on-snow travel in the backcountry and continue them until mid-April. We also offer a variety of classroom and field based educational programs, including instruction specifically aimed towards youth, backcountry skiers, snowmobilers, and professionals.
Scott Savage, Director
Scott began poking around the mountains in the late 1980’s while earning degrees in Chemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He headed to Big Sky, Montana to ski-bum for a winter before enrolling in medical school… or so he thought. Scott ended up spending the better part of two decades as a Ski Patroller, Avalanche Forecaster, and Snow Safety Director at Big Sky Resort before joining the SAC program in 2012. He has presented at many international avalanche conferences and regional professional seminars and is a regular contributor to The Avalanche Review. Scott is a National Avalanche School instructor, Advisor to the American Avalanche Association, and President of Avalanche Worker Safety. He likes to spend his free time playing in the mountains, on rivers, and on rocks and considers each day that he learns more than he forgets to be a success.
Ethan Davis, Avalanche Specialist
Ethan began working as a forecaster with the Sawtooth Avalanche Center in 2015. His interest in snow started at Anthony Lakes, a mom-and-pop ski hill in rural Eastern Oregon. He attended the University of Idaho, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Geography and a minor in Mathematics. Following an interest in winter storms he earned his Master’s degree in Meteorology from Pennsylvania State University. After three years in a dark lab growing ice crystals, Ethan returned to the light as a forecaster in Alaska and Colorado before making his way home to Idaho. When not in the snow, you can find him camping, backpacking, hunting, and climbing with his wife and two young boys.
Ben VandenBos, Avalanche Specialist
After a youthful dalliance with the world of riding lifts at Bridger Bowl, Ben opened his eyes and embraced the rest of the mountains that surrounded his hometown of Bozeman, Montana. He earned a B.S. in Geology at the University of Montana in Missoula, where he also developed the masochism required for long approaches to questionable skiing and climbing while exploring the Bitterroot Range. In the following years, and supported by off-season work as a geologist, Ben focused on the study of mountains and snow. When he’s not searching out first descents, he reads, picks up rocks, skis, climbs, and drinks a whole lot of coffee. If you see him, be prepared to discuss anything from stellar dendrites to the Paleogene trans-Challis dike swarm.
Jon “JP” Preuss, Avalanche Specialist
After completing degrees in Biology and Outdoor Education at Northern Vermont University, JP moved to the Wood River Valley to pursue a career in mountain guiding. Over his career, he has worked as an operations manager, SAR member, educator, and AMGA-certified ski and rock guide. JP brings a true passion for snow and avalanches, an impressive work ethic, and a great attitude to the SAC. He spends his free time hunting avalanches and hopes to one day find the missing key to forecasting Deep Persistent Slabs. When not in the mountains, you can find JP enjoying the Wood River Valley with his wife Michele and young son Owen.
Chris Lundy, Avalanche Specialist, National Avalanche Center
Chris works for the National Avalanche Center and remains involved with the Sawtooth Avalanche Center as a forecaster emeritus. Chris has over 20 years of diverse professional experience with snow and avalanches, including 13 seasons with SAC. After earning an MS in Civil Engineering from Montana State University, Chris has worked as a researcher, ski patroller, highway avalanche forecaster, backcountry ski guide, backcountry avalanche forecaster, and web developer. Chris lives in Stanley and enjoys mountain travel in all of its forms.