The American Avalanche Institute and Colorado Mountain School Join Forces

November 8, 2021

Leaders in Recreational and Professional Avalanche Education Align to Shape the Future of the Industry

Boulder, Colo. (November 2021) /OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – Colorado Mountain School, the largest provider of avalanche safety education for recreational backcountry travelers, announced today their alliance with The American Avalanche Institute, the nation’s largest provider of professional avalanche education. With this alliance, ownership and management of the American Avalanche Institute will transition to Katy and Russell Hunter, current owners of Colorado Mountain School.

“I am beyond excited for the opportunities that aligning these two companies creates,” said Russell Hunter, Owner/CEO of Colorado Mountain SchooI and now The American Avalanche Institute. “I feel honored and grateful for the opportunity to carry on the legacy of AAI!“

Founded by Rod Newcomb in 1974 in Jackson, Wyo., The American Avalanche Institute translates snow science and decision-making research into relevant tools and practices for winter mountain travelers. For the past 47 years, the organization has remained committed to educating backcountry enthusiasts and serving the winter sports community through education and training, and AAI is committed to growing and engaging with the ranks of backcountry on-snow travelers and alpinists alike.

Sarah and Don Carpenter, along with Don Sharaf, have owned and operated the company since 2009, progressing Newcomb’s legacy through the expansion of industry-renowned avalanche curriculum and student experience. All three previous owners will remain in leadership roles through this transition and beyond to continue evolving the avalanche curriculum and legacy of which they have been such a huge part.

“AAI is the oldest avalanche education school in the country, and our goal has always been to maintain and grow the organization’s legacy,” said Sarah Carpenter, former AAI co-owner and current lead avalanche course instructor. “To be able to continue to grow this organization’s presence is a huge moment, and to have additional support for AAI to reach more people in our area and throughout the Rocky Mountains is fantastic. We’re thrilled.”

Founded in 1981 in Estes Park, Colorado Mountain School is the state’s largest mountain guide company, an accredited guide service of the American Mountain Guides Association, and the country’s leading course provider for American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE). The move marks a milestone for both companies as they work towards their shared vision for shaping the future of avalanche education, together.

Moving into the 2021-22 season the two organizations will continue to operate separately, offering programs as they have in the past. Colorado Mountain School will teach the AIARE curriculum, while American Avalanche Institute courses will continue to follow their own curriculum. With almost 70 years of combined experience in avalanche education, both organizations are excited to share best practices and institutional knowledge, ultimately to the benefit of the students and backcountry community. Joining forces is a huge step forward in sharing the power of the mountains with adventurers and professionals who want to learn, work and explore safely.

To learn more about Colorado Mountain School, visit coloradomountainschool.com.

To learn more about American Avalanche Institute, visit americanavalancheinstitute.com

Media Contact

Meteorite PR | Eric Henderson | ehenderson@MeteoritePR.com | 307.690.2984