Expert Instructors, Real-World Lessons

CMC Faculty Partner with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Highly regarded industry experts developed the Avalanche Science program. Their invaluable experience in the nation’s most active snow sports region shaped the curriculum. This expertise is available to you through CMC’s partnerships with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, nearby ski areas, and leading industry professionals who will teach you both in the classroom and on the mountain slopes.

During your field internship, you’ll have the opportunity to monitor, track and measure mountain snowpack over two full winters and observe how snow behaves in various weather conditions.

Hands-on learning activities include:

  • Performing high-altitude fieldwork in the Rocky Mountains
  • Observing snow behavior at CMC’s on-campus snow study plot
  • Tracking data from two remote-sensing weather stations: one on campus and one in the nearby Sawatch Range
  • Using state-of-the-art equipment in daily lessons
  • Meeting in “smart” classrooms that deliver the latest technology
  • Learning in hybrid classes that combine online and on-site education to fit the schedules of working students
  • Access to a regional forecasting office and personnel
Elder, Kelly

Dr. Kelly Elder

Dr. Kelly Elder, Avalanche Science facultyInstructor, Avalanche Science
Research Hydrologist, USDA Forest Service

Education

  • B.A. Physical Geography, University of Colorado
  • M.A. Physical Geography Hydrology, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Ph.D. Physical Geography Hydrology Statistics, University of California, Santa Barbara

Professional Certifications and Associations

  • American Avalanche Association, Certified Instructor
  • American Geophysical Union

About

Dr. Kelly Elder is a research hydrologist with the USDA Forest Service at the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Fort Collins, CO. He studies water distribution and the water yield from mountain snowpacks and his specialty is snow. He has worked to develop information and methods for measuring snowpack properties, distribution of snow cover and water equivalents in alpine and subalpine basins. Dr. Elder’s passion for snow hydrology and mountain climatology can be found in his numerous scholarly articles and professional publications.

In addition to his research efforts, Dr. Elder served as a faculty member for the Colorado State University Watershed Science Program from 1995 – 2000. He has taught courses on snow, avalanches, snow hydrology, physical geography and the geography of water resources.

As an expert in the snow science field, Dr. Elder was involved in the development of the Avalanche Science program from concept to curriculum. He hopes that students graduate the program with a fundamental working knowledge that will allow them to pursue careers in the industry and benefit from the hands-on, applied approach.

“The Colorado Mountain College Avalanche Science program is designed to prepare snow and avalanche professionals for career paths in a new comprehensive fashion not available in any other venue.” says Dr. Kelly Elder, “It will change the way we train and prepare people for the professional snow worker industry.”

When he isn’t “buried” in avalanche and hydrology research or teaching students, Dr. Elder enjoys skiing at Arapahoe Basin, and spending time with his children and dogs.

Greene, Ethan

Dr. Ethan Greene, Director of the CAIC and Instructor for the Avalanche science programDr. Ethan Greene

Instructor, Avalanche Science
Director, Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Education

  • B.S. Meteorology, University of Utah
  • M.S. Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University
  • PhD Geosciences, Colorado State University

Professional Certifications and Associations

  • Wilderness First Responder
  • State of Colorado -Type I Explosive
  • Certified Instructor, American Avalanche Association
  • Pro I and II Instructor, American Avalanche Association
  • Avalanche Operations – Level 3, Canadian Avalanche Association
  • Mountain Meteorology, American Meteorological Society
  • American Meteorological Society, Member
  • American Avalanche Association, Professional Member
  • International Association for Cryospheric Sciences – Snow and Avalanches, Division Head

About

Dr. Ethan Greene has been the Director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) since 2005. He currently lives in Leadville and grew up in Boulder, skiing Colorado’s Front Range. Prior to his time with the CAIC, Ethan spent several winters in the San Juan Mountains, at Big Sky Ski Resort as a ski patroller and at the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center as an avalanche forecaster. Ethan approaches snow and avalanches from both a practical and theoretical perspective.

Ethan has studied meteorology at the University of Utah and Atmospheric Science, specifically snowdrift formation, at Colorado State University. He has also examined and researched the microstructure of snow and its metamorphism in Colorado and Switzerland, earning a PhD in Geosciences. Ethan has published various scholarly articles on snow, weather and avalanches and been a member of national and international working groups on snow and avalanche projects.

Dr. Ethan Greene is one of the original supporters of the Avalanche Science program and helped with the initial efforts to design and approve the curriculum. As an avalanche professional, Dr. Greene recognized the need for an experiential based program geared towards industry professionals.

He specifically looks forward to showing students how to define and address avalanche safety problems and preventing avalanche tragedies in Colorado.

“The Avalanche Science program gives students a chance to dig into the fundamentals of snow, avalanches and provides time to learn, experience and experiment.” says Dr. Ethan Greene, “I look forward to meeting, teaching, and working with a fantastic group of people.”

Lazar, Brian

Brian Lazar, Deputy Director of the CAIC and Avalanche science instructorBrian Lazar

Instructor, Avalanche Science

Deputy Director, Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Education

  • M.S. Civil Engineering, University of Colorado
  • B.S. Environmental Science and Biology, University of Colorado

Professional Certifications and Associations

  • Wilderness First Responder
  • American Avalanche Association (AAA), Certified Instructor Pro 1 and 2
  • AIARE, Curriculum Developer, former Executive Director, Board Member
  • AIARE Course Leader Levels 1 – 3
  • Snowmobile Safety Instructor, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • AMGA training, Ski Mountaineering, Rock, Alpine
  • Type 1 Explosives training, Permit for Avalanche Control, Colorado Dept. of Labor and Employment

About

Brian has been the Deputy Director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) since 2010. Prior to his work with the CAIC, Brian was an avalanche educator and curriculum developer as well as the Executive Director with the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE), and former member of the American Avalanche Association Education Committee.

After more than a decade of guiding in a variety of snow climates on both sides of the equator, Brian returned to graduate school where he studied snow and ice mechanics in Alaska’s Chugach Range, and conducted research at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.

Thanks to a collaboration between Colorado Mountain College and the CAIC, Brian brings his years of expertise in avalanche education to the Avalanche Science curriculum. He looks forward to assisting in individual student development through the program’s unique mentorship structure.

“My hope is that students leave with a core skill set and competency that allows them enter the role as an avalanche professional,” says Brian, “and can easily accept and Incorporate training and mentorship.”

MacKinnon, John

John MacKinnon, Instructor of Outdoor Studies and Avalanche ScienceJohn MacKinnon

Instructor, Outdoor Recreation Leadership & Avalanche Science

Education

  • B.A. Geosciences, Williams College
  • M.Ed. Adult Education and Training
  • Colorado State University (To be completed in Fall 2017)

Professional Certifications and Associations

  • American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA)
  • American Avalanche Association (AAA)
  • AIARE Instructor Trainer Team
  • AMGA Ski Guide
  • AMGA Rock Guide
  • AIARE Level 3 Avalanche Certified
  • AIARE Level 1 and Level 2 Avalanche Course Leader
  • Wilderness First Responder

About

John MacKinnon, originally from the NYC metro area, began teaching at Colorado Mountain College Leadville in a 2010 Canyon Orientation course. His professional experience includes 10+ years as a climbing and ski guide in Colorado and the Pacific Northwest, 4 years as an Avalanche Forecaster in Crested Butte, CO, and he has taught AIARE avalanche courses since 2007.

John enjoys Leadville’s easy access to uncrowded, wild places. His passions include backcountry skiing, climbing, trail running, and exploring the Leadville high country with his wife, Reed and their dog, Hannah.

“I love teaching motivated students technical outdoor skills that they can apply in their personal and professional lives,” says John, who moved to Leadville full-time in 2013, “Furthermore, it’s really rewarding to watch my students develop into successful outdoor professionals.”

Coit, Roger

Roger Coit, Professor for Outdoor Studies, EMS & Avalanche Science at Colorado Mountain CollegeRoger Coit

Assistant Professor, Emergency Medical Services and Outdoor Studies

719-486-4259rcoit@coloradomtn.edu

Education

  • B.S. Animal Biology (Zoology), Colorado State University
  • NREMT – Paramedic, Swedish Medical Center/ Health One EMS

Professional Certifications and Associations

  • Ambulance Service Management certificate, Fitch and Associates
  • Colorado EMS Instructor / Primary / Administrator, Colorado Paramedic
  • Former National Ski Patrol OEC Instructor (8yrs.) and Level II National Ski Patrol Cert.
  • Wilderness EMT/Instructor
  • Professional member, American Avalanche Association
  • American Avalanche Association, PRO Programs Instructor
  • American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education, Course Leader
  • American Canoe Association Swift-water Rescue Instructor
  • Incident Command System 100-400 and Multi-Agency Coordination

About

Since 2009, Roger Coit has been a faculty member of Colorado Mountain College in Leadville instructing EMS and Outdoor Studies courses.  Prior to becoming a full-time faculty member, he taught as an adjunct instructor for the college since 1998, leading courses in avalanche safety, wilderness medicine, and urban EMS. From 2003 – 2011, Roger worked as a paramedic and Deputy Director for Summit County EMS, and he now works as a part-time Paramedic in Chaffee County, Colorado. Roger has significant wilderness rescue experience and has been a lead instructor for Wilderness Medical Associates since 1995. He was the ski patrol assistant director and snow safety coordinator with Monarch Ski Area for ten years, from 1991 – 2001. He also has many years as a river guide and river manager on the Arkansas River as well as guiding on many other rivers in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and West Virginia. In collaboration with local avalanche experts and respected agencies, Roger has been involved in the development of the Avalanche Science curriculum since its very beginnings.