From the Lead Snow Ranger

Welcome and thank you for visiting our website developed in partnership between the US Forest Service’s Mount Washington Avalanche Center (MWAC), the Mount Washington Avalanche Education Foundation (WMAEF) and the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol (MWVSP). The goal of our organization and this site is to increase visitor safety on Mount Washington during the snow covered months.

The MWAC is operated by the Androscoggin Ranger District of the White Mountain National Forest and is the only American avalanche center east of the Rockies with one Canadian avalanche center to our north in the Chic Choc Range. We are also the oldest backcountry forecasting program in the country which reflects the long history of skiing and climbing here.

The Center’s public safety priorities are three fold:

  1. 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.
  2. The greatest difference between the 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.
  3. Our third emphasis is as an eastern professional avalanche resource for people seeking assistance with snow and avalanche safety. This entails assisting with research projects, giving avalanche awareness programs, participating in avalanche courses, providing information to reporters, working with our volunteer search and rescue groups, and coordinating 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.

For all of the Snow Rangers we never could have imagined being in an avalanche forecaster/rescuer role for a federal agency, but in hindsight it all makes sense. Love of the natural world, outdoor pursuits, and helping people have, one by one, sent us down the path of public service. Doing work we enjoy and making a positive difference for tens of thousands of people each season keeps us motivated. Succeeding as a Snow Ranger for the Mount Washington Avalanche Center takes more than technical skills, it takes a true concern and compassion for the visiting public. It 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.  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 by aligning our forecast products with the more common national forecast products.

The Mount Washington Avalanche Center’s focus on field contacts with climbers, skiers, hikers, and riders to pass along recommendations and safety information remains the core of our daily program, particularly on weekends and during the spring. We believe these interactions are the best way to connect visitors with the land while making them aware of the multiple hazards they may encounter.

Our ability to improve and meet varying demands is directly related to your questions, feedback, and suggestions over the years. Ultimately we are here for you, 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

Meet the Staff