Join us in welcoming John Sykes onto the Chugach NF Avalanche Center’s forecast team!! We are so thrilled to have John on board, starting up this week in fact, and look forward to taking advantage of his wide array of skills and knowledge. John comes from Anchorage and has roamed Alaska’s mountains for nearly 15 years; oh, and he is also finishing up a PhD in Avalanche Research! See more about John in his bio below. Welcome John – and keeping bringing the snow!
John began his career as an avalanche professional in 2011 working as a mountaineering guide for Alaska Mountaineering School and an avalanche educator for the Alaska Avalanche School. John’s first taste of backcountry forecasting was during the 2014/2015 season when he completed an internship with the Chugach NF Avalanche Center. Feeling the draw to further his education in snow science, John completed a MSc at the Snow and Avalanche Laboratory in the Department of Earth Sciences at Montana State University from 2016 to 2018. His research focused on decision-making in backcountry skiers by looking at GPS tracks and survey responses. While living in Montana, John also taught avalanche courses for the American Avalanche Institute and Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. Since 2019 John has been working on a PhD with the Simon Fraser University Avalanche Research Program, continuing to research decision-making in avalanche terrain by developing new avalanche hazard mapping techniques and analyzing GPS tracks of professional guides. The goal of his research is to work towards a new decision-making tool for both professional and recreational backcountry skiers based on the observed decisions of expert guides. John is currently a member of the board of directors of the Alaska Avalanche School and a professional member of the American Avalanche Association. He is excited to be back in Alaska and have the opportunity to balance his academic interests with more applied and field based work with CNFAIC.