Zach Guy


Zach began directing the Flathead Avalanche Center in the spring of 2017.  He brought six years of forecasting experience with him from the Elk Mountains of Central Colorado, where he was serving as the director and lead forecaster of the Crested Butte Avalanche Center. He also worked in Crested Butte as the assistant snow safety director and as a ski guide for Irwin Guides.  Zach's academic foundation comes from a B.S. in geology from Western Washington University and a MSc in snow science from Montana State University.   Zach is AVPro, Wilderness First Responder, and Type 1 Explosive certified, a professional member of the American Avalanche Association, and has presented at numerous International Snow Science Workshops.  He grew up in Estes Park, Colorado, but has been studying or playing in the snow from the Cascades to the Tetons to the Rockies.  If there's not enough snow to ski on, then you'll probably find him riding his mountain bike or watching Will Ferrell movies. 

Topic of Presentation

Tricks to avoid getting tricked

Our brains develop shortcuts to decision making that can steer us towards illogical choices in the backcountry.  Zach will help illustrate this point with a near miss story and then present some techniques to avoid getting tricked.  Zach will also give an update on the upcoming season for the Flathead Avalanche Center. 

Scott Savage

Andrew Beck


Scott Savage has spent his career being perplexed by snow on steep slopes in the mountains and how people behave in that environment. He spent most of the 1990's and 2000's in Big Sky, MT as an avalanche forecaster and snow safety director. Scott currently resides in Hailey, ID and is the director of the  USFS Sawtooth Avalanche Center. He considers each day that he learns more than he forgets to be a success. 

Andrew Beck is the Training Officer for the Mandan City Fire Department in Mandan, ND where he supervises all Fire and EMS training and live burn operations. Andrew previously worked in wildland fire and is currently the Mountain Operations Manager at Huff Hills Ski Area in Mandan, ND. Andrew also works on the program staff at the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Near Miss Program. He lives in Mandan with his wife Ashleigh and four kids.

Topic of Presentations

Memory 101 for Avalanche Connoisseurs & Aficionados    Scott Savage

Is it live, or is it Memorex? Scott explores how memory works, how it can fail us when working or playing in avalanche terrain, and how to minimize these impacts.

Learning from Mistakes the Pros Make    Scott Savage and Andrew Beck

Scott and Andrew examine what we know and what we don't know about the mistakes avalanche professionals and experienced recreationists make. Using expertise from other industries, they present a new tool to study and ultimately reduce avalanche accidents and near miss events. 

Ted Steiner


Ted Steiner is the lead avalanche safety consultant for BNSF Railway, is stationed in Essex, Montana
during the winter, and employed by David Hamre & Associates located in Anchorage, Alaska. Ted has been involved with the Railway’s avalanche safety program since its inception in 2005. During this time, Ted
has assisted the Railway with avalanche safety education, avalanche forecasting, emergency avalanche mitigation, and avalanche rescue preparedness.

Topic of Presentation

WHATS YOUR CALL... managing uncertainty as a field practitioner and industrial-based avalanche forecaster

Ted’s presentation will provide an overview of his avalanche work with the Railway, managing uncertainty while traveling avalanche prone terrain as a forecaster, and methods of accounting for and/or reducing uncertainty for Railway forecasts and operations. Discussion in this presentation as it relates to uncertainty will be highlighted in an overview of the 2016-17 seasonal snowpack progression, associated avalanche activity, and operational avalanche risk management during the early February avalanche cycle.


Tory Baughan

Travis Berro

Kyle Haugen


Topic of Presentation

Close call riding in the Swan Range

Tory, Travis, and Kyle will discuss their close-call avalanche in Lost Johnny in the Swan Range last winter. These highly skilled and experienced riders will present their background, the events of the day, and lessons learned. They hope to generate thoughtful questions and engaged discussion during and after their presentations.

Erich Peitzsch


Erich is the former Director of the Flathead Avalanche Center, the lead forecaster for the USGS/GNP Going-to-the-Sun Road Avalanche Program in Glacier National Park, and a Physical Scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey in West Glacier, MT. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Snow Science at Montana State Univeristy. Before moving to northwest Montana, he completed his Masters of Science in Snow Science at Montana State University in Bozeman in 2009. He has presented at numerous International Snow Science Workshops and regional professional development workshops throughout western North America. Erich started his professional avalanche career working as a professional ski patroller alongside the great avalanche hunters at Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe, CA. Erich is a Certified Instructor and professional member with the American Avalanche Association and has completed an AIARE Level 3 Continuing Professional Development course. When not working in the snow, you just may find him chasing his young sons through the trees on skis, running and climbing in the mountains, and staring at the computer monitor scratching his head.

Topic of Presentation

Perspectives of experience

Erich will discuss what it means to be "experienced" in the backcountry, why we travel and work in the mountains, and how even experienced backcountry travelers and avalanche professionals are susceptible to heuristic traps (the negative side of shortcuts) as well.