Professional Advisors

AIARE draws expertise from our Advisors to review, improve, or establish best practices.  They are long-time and well respected professionals in their careers.

Dale Wang

Medical Advisor

Dale is an Emergency Physician who has practiced in Boulder, Colorado for the past 20 years. He is involved in search and rescue as a mission leader for the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, and is active in the International Commission on Alpine Rescue.  Prior to AIARE, he was a medical advisor to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, and served as an NPS rescue patrol volunteer on Denali.  An advocate of AIARE’s mission of increasing safety through education, he completed his level 3 training in 2010, and has published research on avalanche fatalities in Colorado. Since the 1980’s Dale has been climbing and ski mountaineering in Alaska, the Nepal Himalaya, Europe, and all over North America.

Jordan Lipp

Legal Advisor

Jordan Lipp is a partner at the law firm of Childs McCune, LLC in Denver, Colorado, where he focuses on product liability defense, outdoor industry defense, and complex commercial litigation.  He is also an adjunct law professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where he teaches the course: Outdoor Recreation and Ski Law.  Jordan frequently writes and lectures on many legal topics, including legal risk management for the ski and adventure park industries.  He also authored the book Product Liability Law & Procedure in Colorado, 2nd Ed. (2019).

Jordan is an avid backcountry skier, snowboarder, and ski mountaineer.  He’s written two books on skiing: Hunting Powder: A Skier’s Guide to Finding Colorado’s Best Snow (2021) and Backcountry Skiing Berthoud Pass (2005).  He has been a volunteer ski patroller and member of the National Ski Patrol for over 25 years.  During that time he’s patrolled at alpine ski areas (Berthoud Pass, CO, Eldora, CO, Swain, NY, and Mt. Brighton, MI), cross-country ski areas (Devil’s Thumb Ranch, CO), and backcountry areas (front range backcountry, CO).  He’s taught avalanche classes through the National Ski Patrol for over two decades.  And, he’s a hopeless ski fanatic – he’s skied on all seven continents (Antarctica is his favorite), he’s skied at over 100 ski areas worldwide (and many more backcountry locations), and he’s always working on his streak of skiing at least one day every month of the year (with a current streak of over a dozen years and counting).

Technical Committee

The purpose of the AIARE Technical Committee is to provide a practical and scientific backstop for the R (research) and the E (education) in AIARE. The Committee fulfills an advisory and review role ensuring:

  • Technical currency of AIARE materials
  • Vetted references and independent evaluations.
  • Alignment with AIARE mission and cultural history.

The Committee is a working group composed of seasoned avalanche practitioners, alacritous thinkers with critical or emerging perspectives, and inclined sensei who represent experience in many categories and sectors of avalanche work. The Committee is chaired by the Technical Director

Steve Conger

Technical Director

As Technical Director, Steve works in collaboration with AIARE Staff to provide technical leadership in AIARE’s role as a curricular and training organization.  He brings cross-discipline and multi-sector experience from both the US and Canadian avalanche community to develop and further industry best practices and standards. Steve attributes his formative avalanche training to the NSPS, AAI, and USFS. He began his engagement with the Canadian avalanche system in mid-1990s to support his continuing professional development.  Later, Steve moved north to complete a M Sc under Dave McClung on practical application of technology in a forecasting environment with the Avalanche Research Group at UBC where his field work was conducted at Rogers Pass. He has been a regular contributor at ISSW and to the Avalanche Review. Steve lives in Golden BC with his partner Tannis and their dog Malik where they enjoy powder snow in the Rockies, Purcells, and Selkirks; free flowing water in the Columbia River; and kilometers of local mountain bike trails.

Aaron Ball

Skiing since the 1970’s, he would burn through numerous gloves a season on the local rope tow. After years of skiing deep powder on skinny skis and surviving his early backcountry skiing career through mostly ignorance and good luck, he became a ski patroller at Mammoth Mountain, where he quickly learned about the dangers and intricacies of avalanches. Working there for six seasons, Aaron served as an avalanche control route leader, often shot a really big gun, and was active in the avalanche and snow study program. He spent many days exploring the backcountry of the Eastern Sierra, and in 2005, Aaron moved to Durango, CO with his partner and their two children where he has been working for San Juan Mountain Guides as an alpine/ski guide and AIARE course leader. He is currently working his way through the AMGA certification process. In 2012, Aaron completed his master’s degree in adventure education where he studied risk management and decision-making in outdoor leaders. He owns Southwest Rescue teaching rescue education including wilderness medicine and swiftwater rescue. He also works for Fort Lewis College as an adjunct faculty and coordinates program operations.

Anne St.Clair

As a member of AIARE's technical committee, Anne St. Clair brings in-depth social science expertise applied specifically to public avalanche safety. Anne works as a PhD student with the Simon Fraser University Avalanche Research Program (SARP) in British Columbia, Canada. Her research engages social science theories and qualitative methods to examine meaningful differences in how people manage avalanche risk in real-world contexts. Her areas of academic expertise include risk communication, risk governance, disaster risk reduction, decision-making science, and community-engaged research. In addition to her Canadian Avalanche Association Operations Level 2 and American Avalanche Association Professional Level 2 certifications, Anne holds a bachelor's degree in Sociology and Anthropology from the University of Notre Dame and a master's degree in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University.


Ben Pritchett

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 served at AIARE as the Program Director from 2005-2016. In 2016, Ben moved into a full time position with the CAIC as an Avalanche Forecaster. 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.

Clinton Culp

Clint Culp, PhD, Major USMC (Ret), is the Director of Wilderness Education and Outdoor Leadership at Lake Tahoe Community College. Clint got his start in avalanche education as the Officer in Charge of the Mountain Leaders Course for the U.S. Marines near Bridgeport, CA. While there he participated in and/or led mountaineering expeditions, training and operational missions to Alaska, the North Cascades, Norway, Germany, the High Sierra, and the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. Concurrently, he was the snow safety officer/forecaster for what is now the Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area. Clint earned a B.S. in CIS from West Texas A&M University, an M.S. in Outdoor Recreation, a Graduate Certificate in Statistics, and a Ph.D. in Education (focus on moral decision-making, cognitive phycology and curriculum development) from the University of Idaho. Clint has taught at the University of Idaho, Washington State University, Montana State University Billings and helped develop current curriculum for AIARE’s recreation program.

Jeff Deems

Dr. Jeff Deems, in a continuous quest to legitimize his skiing habit, has been pioneering applications of snow laser mapping for avalanche and hydrology interests. As Co-Founder of Airborne Snow Observatories, Inc. and a Research Affiliate at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, he is developing and producing lidar data products and methods for decision-support in avalanche and water resources applications. PhD Watershed Science Colorado State University, MS Geography - Snow Science Montana State University.

Jeff Hambelton

Jeff works with avalanche professionals from around the world and across multiple disciplines to build avalanche education tools and train a new generation of avalanche professionals. Jeff grew up in central Washington, ski racing at Mission Ridge and riding bikes and skateboards in the ample sunshine. Trading sun for drizzle, Jeff resides near Mt. Baker where he enjoys a deep snowpack, loamy single-track, and the fall berry harvest. Jeff started snowmobiling in 2007, quickly adapting to a new mode of mountain access. He dedicates the majority of his winter to riding sleds with friends and teaching snowmobile based avalanche courses with a growing team of inspiring instructors. After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Recreation at WWU in 1999, Jeff worked at Mt. Baker Ski Area, leading the Mountain Education Center and learning the avalanche trade on the Pro Patrol. He completed his AIARE Instructor training in 2012 and joined the AIARE Pro Trainer staff in 2018. He was hired in 2013 by the Northwest Avalanche Center as a Professional Observer and remains on staff as the Snowmobile Education Coordinator. Jeff is the owner/operator of a small construction company in the other season.

John MacKinnon

John is an AMGA certified Rock and Ski Guide based in Leadville, CO. He got his start with AIARE while living in Crested Butte, CO where he worked as an avalanche instructor, ski guide, and avalanche forecaster. He actively teaches both AIARE recreational and professional avalanche courses and is a member of the AIARE Instructor Trainer Team. John also instructs in the Avalanche Science Program at Colorado Mountain College and guides climbing and skiing throughout Colorado and the Pacific Northwest. When he’s not working, John enjoys reading, eating large breakfasts and running around the high country with his wife and their impulsive blue heeler. John has a B.A. in Geosciences from Williams College, and an M.Ed. from Colorado State University with a specialization in Adult Education and Training.

Howie Schwartz

howie-sHowie Schwartz has been involved in avalanche education since 1996 and has been working to learn, teach, and develop AIARE curriculum since 1999. Howie is an AIARE Instructor Trainer, actively teaches AIARE 1, 2, & 3 courses as Course Leader and Instructor. Howie conceived of the original version of the AIARE decision making framework in 2003 and has delivered ISSW presentations on the topic of teaching decision making in avalanche terrain. He is an IFMGA/UIAGM Mountain Guide since 2001 and has guided professionally worldwide since 1997. Howie is co-owner of Sierra Mountain Guides, based in Bishop, California where he and his family reside. He serves on the Technical Committee for the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and has been an Instructor/Examiner and Ski Program Coordinator designing and implementing curriculum for AMGA guide training programs since 2000. He was a founding director for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center and is a Professional Member of the American Avalanche Association.

Margaret Wheeler

Margaret Wheeler learned to ski and climb at an early age in New England, and became interested in ski mountaineering while living in Europe for several seasons. As a transplant to the Northwest, she guides ski mountaineering, alpine, and rock objectives. In 2006, Margaret became the second woman in the US to complete her full UIAGM guide certification. An active member of the guiding community, she is an instructor of guide training for the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and serves on its board of directors and is a former president of the organization. She is involved in avalanche education through her work as an AIARE Instructor and Trainer.


Provider Advisory Group

AIARE Providers are key partners in meeting our mission of saving lives through avalanche education. We want to specifically add their perspective to updates and improvements we make to our products, as well as changes we make to program requirements. To facilitate this, AIARE formed the Providers Advisory Group in 2022 composed of  AIARE Provider representatives, the Recreation Program Director and Technical Director.  The advisory group has no voting or decision-making authority; however, candid input from current Providers is vital to the continued success of the organization. The inaugural group includes:

  • Amy Smallwood (Colorado Mountain College - CO)
  • Corey Fitzgerald (Northeast Mountaineering - NH)
  • Eliza Allen (Snowbird Mountain Guides - UT)
  • Justin Rotherham (Mountain Bureau - WA)
  • Matt Entz (Mountain Skilz - CO)
  • Matt Schonwald (Backcountry Adventure Guides - WA)
  • Uwe Sartori (Colorado Mountain Club - CO)
  • Zeb Blais (Blackbird Mountain Guides - WA, CA)