The mission of the Alaska Avalanche School is to provide exceptional experience-based avalanche safety education to all users of the mountain environment.The Alaska Avalanche School (AAS) was founded in 1976 by Doug Fesler, the chief ranger of Chugach State Park, who spent many years recovering the bodies of avalanche victims and wanted to try to stem the rise in avalanche accidents through education. One of the first schools of its type in the country, the AAS gained an international reputation for providing top quality, intensive field-oriented avalanche and mountain safety training for backcountry travelers. In its early years, the School was part of the Snow Avalanche Safety Program under the Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. In 1986, when the statewide avalanche program fell victim to budget cuts, Fesler teamed up with Jill Fredston, the director of the newly defunct Alaska Avalanche Forecast Center and co-author of the classic primer Snow Sense: A Guide to Evaluating Avalanche Hazard, to create the Alaska Mountain Safety Center, a nonprofit organization. As part of their mission to promote mountain safety through education, publishing, consulting, and research, they directed the AAS until the winter of 2005-2006 when the Alaska Avalanche School was established as a separate nonprofit organization. With a staff of 45 instructors, the school teaches over a thousand participants each winter season, both in the field and in the classroom.
Access: Avalanche education is available to all Alaskans who live, work, or travel in avalanche terrain.
Community Culture: Alaskans work together to have a culture of respect for mountain hazards.
Decision-making: Alaskans embrace & foster educated decisions in avalanche terrain.
Reduce Fatalities: Alaska lowers the rate of accidents and deaths in avalanche terrain.
To fulfill the organization’s mission and vision, five strategic initiatives have been identified for AAS to focus on during the years to come. Each of these bigger picture initiatives are supported by a set of goals and will be reviewed often to ensure progress.
To view our school’s plan in greater detail and understand the process we used to align our school with community needs please click on the link below.
The Alaska Avalanche School’s volunteer Board of Directors is made up of recognized leaders across many areas of expertise. They represent the broad diversity of our community and contribute significant amounts of time, talent, and energy to further the mission of the organization.
Get to know the professional instructors at Alaska Avalanche School. Click on an image for a full bio statement.