Avalanche Specialist Position for the Forest Service

This an exciting diverse position that includes avalanche forecasting, avalanche education, SAR responsibilities (medical response, technical rope rescue skills, and incident management) snowcat operations, and interacting with large crowds in avalanche terrain. More details listed below.

To apply for this Avalanche Specialist position go to the website here. It is open from: 12/11/2013 to 12/24/2013.

This position works as part of a motivated and effective team that issues daily avalanche advisories, performs in Search and Rescue missions for the Forest Service as Lead Agency in command, and increases visitor knowledge through avalanche education programs of varying media.

Producing an accurate and timely avalanche and mountain hazards advisory for the visiting public is the focused priority each day. The position will determine present avalanche hazard and forecast future hazards based on field observations and snow stability analysis.

Analysis will utilize field observations paired with an intimate knowledge of snow metamorphism, snow physics, and mechanics of slab fracture and failure.  In addition, knowledge of mountain weather forecasting tools such as weather maps, satellite imagery, and real time weather data is necessary to produce forecasts of the highest standards.  The candidate must have the ability to quickly synthesize data and disseminate this information in writing via e-mail and websites and verbally through telephone hotlines.  Excellent writing skills that convey the hazards of the day are sought.

The Forest Service has unique authority as the lead agency in charge of SAR operations on Mount Washington from December 1st to June 1st of each year.  The position may act as a first responder, searcher, team leader, technical team leader and possibly Incident Commander on smaller incidents.  Numerous Forest Service volunteer SAR teams respond to assist with missions that are managed by the Snow Rangers.

Strong leadership and personnel management skills are required to effectively oversee safe operations of all teams under hazardous and potential stressful circumstances.  Incidents typically include ice climbing or mountaineer falls in Huntington Ravine, avalanche burials, searches for lost or overdue visitors, and skier injuries.  The spring ski season may bring 2500 people or more to Tuckerman Ravine on a sunny Saturday in April or May.  The position is required to provide pre-hospital medical care at the EMT-Basic level; consequently experience and current EMT certification is highly desired.

The dedication required for this position requires a unique enthusiasm for harsh winter weather and the ability to work well in a difficult environment while in the pursuit to help visitors on Mount Washington.  The summit records many days through each winter with winds in excess of 100mph and temperatures below -25F.  Due to these weather conditions the position requires excellent physical fitness to maintain a margin of safety during searches in severe conditions and collection of the field data required for accurate avalanche forecasts.

The ideal candidate should have the ability to teach avalanche safety, stability analysis and snow mechanics to a wide variety of audiences from school children to seasoned recreationalists.  Venues include slide shows, field snow pits, and seminar settings.  The position must stay abreast of avalanche education practices and changes in avalanche technology and snow science.  The candidate must display good public speaking and teaching skills.

Due to the complexity of the terrain ski touring to access avalanche forecast areas is the exception rather than the rule.  Because of this sound mountaineering and ice climbing skills are needed to access all potential areas to assess snow stability as well as injured climbers.

Candidates may be required to lead climb water ice to render medical and technical assistance to individuals in the event of an accident.

Good mountaineering skills are needed on a regular basis to carry out a variety of Snow Ranger tasks across the mountain.  Snow Rangers also operate and maintain snowmobiles, ATV’s, and a diesel Pisten Bully Snowcat.  Experience with this equipment is very beneficial.

This is a field-going position focused on field contacts during a five day work week.  Being available to provide good information and advice about current hazards, avalanche conditions, route selections, mountain weather and being close to the interface between visitors and the mountain is critical.  Current Snow Rangers make up a team of open, forward-thinking, and creative problem solvers that attempt to continually improve their knowledge through sharing and collaborating with one another.  They are team focused to get the job done and put themselves behind the group in that effort.  The Snow Rangers care about the visitors they are there to help and provide unique services with a mission to promote safety while caring for and promoting backcountry values of environmental protection and stewardship.

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