Photo by Matt Sturm

Photo by Matt Sturm

Karl Birkeland

Director, kbirkeland@fs.fed.us, 406-587-6954
Karl grew up skiing in Colorado, chasing his folks around the backcountry and the local ski hills before finding ski patrol work in high school.  He has worked with snow and avalanches for over 35 years, including stints as a professional ski patroller, backcountry avalanche forecaster, and avalanche researcher.  He has earned MS and PhD degrees doing avalanche research.  After founding the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center in 1990, he co-founded and began working for the National Avalanche Center in 1999.  His work as an Avalanche Scientist involved cooperating with several universities and international research institutes to transfer new and emerging technologies to the U.S. avalanche community.  He became the Director of the National Avalanche Center in 2011.


Photo by Blase Reardon

Photo by Blase Reardon

Simon Trautman

National Avalanche Specialist, strautman@fs.fed.us
Simon grew up running around in hay fields outside of Lander, Wyoming. Following a stint as a medic in the United States Navy, he earned a BS in Geology at Western Washington University and an MS in Earth Science from Montana State University. His research focused on wet snow avalanche phenomena. He has worked as an avalanche forecaster for the Moonlight Basin Ski Patrol, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, and the Sawtooth Avalanche Center (where he served as the Director from 2012-2014). Simon recently chaired a national effort to improve worker safety at US avalanche centers. He was hired as the National Avalanche Specialist in the summer of 2014. 


Photo by Bruce Tremper

Photo by Bruce Tremper

Doug Abromeit, in memoriam

Doug Abromeit served as the Director of the National Avalanche Center from its formal inception in 1999 until his retirement in 2011.  Doug passed away suddenly in 2013, leaving behind a big hole in the avalanche community.  This website, which is largely based on the original National Avalanche Center website developed largely by Doug, is dedicated to his memory.

Doug began his career as a ski patroller at Northern Idaho’s Schweitzer Basin while working summers as a smokejumper with the U.S. Forest Service. In the 1980s he became a snow ranger in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah.  This is where Doug founded a “National Center of Excellence” for avalanche-related issues – especially artillery issues - for the Forest Service.  This center was the pre-cursor to the National Avalanche Center, which Doug co-founded with Karl Birkeland in 1999.  Doug served as the Director until he retired, and in that role he coordinated the military artillery for avalanche control program, as well as providing guidance to our network of backcountry avalanche centers and ski area snow rangers.

Doug left behind a legacy of bringing cohesion to an amazing community of avalanche professionals.  Our great avalanche center network is, in a sense, a tribute to the community of avalanche professionals and avalanche centers that Doug helped to foster over his career. We sure miss him.