In the Field with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center
It’s 8:50 on a Saturday morning in late March. I’m sitting next to Alex Marienthal, a forecaster with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC), in a white government SUV and we’re heading north out of Bozeman on our way up to Bridger Bowl. Our plan is to use the lifts to gain the ridge and then head south toward Saddle Peak into the backcountry adjacent to the resort.
The GNFAC is a tremendous resource for our backcountry community and I’m stoked they’re letting me spend a day in the field with them. As an active reader of the daily avy forecasts the Center puts out, I’m pretty interested to see how the cake is made, as they say. I mean, I have an idea, I know they’re in the field gathering data and then compiling daily avalanche forecasts. But beyond that, I’m a blank slate.
In episode 12 of the Spark R&D Podcast, we chat with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center’s Executive Director, Doug Chabot, and avy forecaster, Alex Marienthal. We discuss the history of the Center, what goes into creating the daily forecast, as well as the important role avalanche centers play in mountain communities.