A new avalanche science program is now halfway through its first year at Colorado Mountain College Leadville. On Feb. 16, an open house will be held for those interested in the program. Participants will get an in-depth look into the program, meet the faculty and visit the outdoor classroom and weather station. Those who can’t make it are invited to participate in a live broadcast question-and-answer session with a panel of faculty, college staff, current students and snow-science experts.

Avalanche science open house
Colorado Mountain College Leadville, 901 S. Highway 24, Leadville

Avalanche science students digging a snowpit.

An open house Feb. 16 will offer an inside look at CMC Leadville’s two-year avalanche science program. Photo Roger Coit

Dress for cold weather and outdoor activities.
Friday, Feb. 16
3-3:15 p.m.: Welcome and introductions (New Discovery 122)

3:15-5 p.m.: Tour of campus, including a visit to the outdoor weather station

5-5:45 p.m.: Light dinner (Pinnacle 317)

5:45-6:45 p.m.: Question and answer session (Pinnacle 317) or to connect online, go to at 5:45 p.m. and participate live.


“The Colorado Mountain College program fills a niche in North American avalanche education,” said Dr. Kelly Elder, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Forest Service, who is part of CMC’s avalanche science development team and a CMC avalanche science instructor.

CMC’s current class of a dozen avalanche science students finished the first of four semesters of work last December. The two-year certificate program provides an immersive training in avalanche science and snow safety unlike anything else offered in the United States.

The program is geared to address a variety of snow-safety fields such as mechanized or human-powered guiding, ski patrol and ski area snow safety, forecasting, avalanche safety education, or other professions that operate in and around avalanche terrain.

Three on-site sessions per year involve intensive fieldwork and hands-on learning both indoors at the Leadville campus and on the snow in the Sawatch Mountains. Students continue their studies off-site through live web meetings and independently online. The program is designed to accommodate working professionals, while workplace internships at a variety of different snow-safety operations are possible.

Dr. Ethan Greene is one of the program’s developers and a key instructor. He is director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, holds a doctorate in geosciences and has an extensive background in meteorology, snowdrift formation and the microstructure of snow.

“The avalanche science program gives students a chance to dig into the fundamentals of snow and avalanches, and provides time to learn, experience and experiment,” he said.

Those interested in attending the open house are asked to contact Mollie Sorenson at CMC at 486-4206 or