Richard Bothwell – Executive Director


Richard’s resume includes over 20 years of experience in the guiding and outdoor industry. He lives in Truckee, California and has a passion for snow. He is primarily a splitboarder, but skis as well. He is excited to be focusing his energy on AIARE after running a multi-sport guide service for the past 20 years. Richard is an AIARE avalanche course leader, and his company has been an AIARE course provider for several years. Additionally he is an AMGA SPI climbing instructor and PSIA 1 ski instructor. He also volunteers as an adaptive ski instructor at Achieve Tahoe.


Ben Pritchett – Program Director

Ben Pritchett

Ben Pritchett lives in Crested Butte, Colorado where he spends his summers guiding and chasing his wife and two kids around the mountains. Ben began working on AIARE curriculum development projects in 2002 and joined AIARE as the Program Director in 2005. His background includes 6 seasons as the Education Coordinator for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, 5 seasons forecasting for the Crested Butte Avalanche Center, ski guiding since 1998, ski patrolling for Crested Butte Mountain Resort, and 15 years working on the snow safety crew for the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse race. Ben holds an AMGA Ski Guide certification, and owns his own guide service Colorado Backcountry. He is a professional member of the American Avalanche Association and a AAA Certified Avalanche Instructor.

Colin Zacharias – Technical Advisor


Colin Zacharias is a certified international mountain and ski guide (IFMGA) with several decades of experience in the avalanche industry. Likely many winter professionals Colin started with a ski area avalanche control operation, moved on to become the avalanche forecaster for the 1988 Winter Olympics, then spent a decade as a heliski guide. More recently he has consulted for various projects and organizations including ski areas, highways, public forecasting agencies, and guiding operations. Colin is a former technical director for the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) certificate program at Thompson Rivers University. From his home in Tofino, BC he has been the technical advisor for AIARE since 2004 and is a professional member of the ACMG, the Canadian Avalanche Association, and the American Avalanche Association.

Don Svela – Office Manager

Don grew up in the Pacific Northwest and laid his first set of ski turns in his parent’s back yard. Don has skied throughout the PNW including Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Currently he spends most of his time backcountry skiing around Mt. Rainier.
Don’s background in the ski business since the early 1980’s laid the groundwork for his involvement with AIARE. As a part-time photographer you will also see many of his images in the AIARE student manuals, PowerPoint presentations and AIARE website.


Liz Riggs Meder – Project Manager AIARE online programs

liz-photoLiz Riggs Meder hails from Seattle where she works variously as a curriculum designer, outdoor and environmental educator, substitute teacher and part-time mountain guide. Liz began working with AIARE as a part of a project to complete her M. Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Washington. The project sought to increase instructional time by creating an online curriculum to complement AIARE I courses. This project has developed into the online learning program AIARE is currently creating for the 2014-2015 winter season. A lover of all forms of human powered exploration of the Cascades, Liz is now honing her skills in the art of carrying an infant while exploring the mountains.

John Littleton – Course Logistics Coordinator

John’s passion is teaching people about snow science and how to travel safely in the mountains. As an American Institute of Avalanche Research & Education (AIARE) Lead Instructor, John holds his AIARE Level 3 Certification and is a professional member of the American Avalanche Association. Having called Lake Tahoe home for over fifteen years John is both a Professional Ski Patroller at Squaw Valley Ski Resort and an Outdoor Educator in addition to teaching Experiential Education at Primary, Secondary and College levels. John maintains both EMT and OEC certifications.