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. In conjunction with the Friends of the SAC, we also offer a variety of classroom and field-based educational programs, including instruction specifically aimed toward youth, backcountry skiers, snowmobilers, and professionals.
Scott Savage, Director
Scott began poking around the mountains in the late 1980s 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, President of the American Avalanche Association, and President of Avalanche Worker Safety. He likes to spend his free time playing on snow, dirt, rivers, and rocks and listening to geeky podcasts. Scott 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.
Brooke Maushund, Avalanche Specialist
Harnessing her lifelong love of unnecessary and prolonged physical suffering in beautiful settings, Brooke used her B.S. in Resource Science from UC Berkeley to work on off-grid renewable energy projects in Tanzania and Eastern Nicaragua before moving to Yosemite in her early 20s. Determined to find a better ‘work vs. climbing/skiing’ balance, she pivoted to a job as a weather station technician with the Park Service and soon set her sights on avalanche forecasting. Her path to get there included working as a ski patroller, ski guide, avalanche instructor, snow surveyor, and professional observer for operations in CA and WA. Cutting her teeth toiling away on El Capitan and sliding down remote hallways in the High Sierra, Brooke has a knack for hard work in less-than-ideal conditions — laughing through any mishaps along the way. She spent the summer months managing risk as a member of Yosemite Valley Search and Rescue, on a Denali rescue patrol, and, most recently, as a climbing ranger on Mt. Rainier.
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.