Our mission is to increase avalanche awareness in the Turnagain area through advisories and public education.

Avalanche forecasts are updated seven days a week, during the winter, on this website by 7 am.

Contact Information

FS Address: CNFAIC P.O. Box 129 Girdwood, AK 99587
Location: Glacier Ranger Station, 145 Forest Station Road, Girdwood, AK 99587
Forecast Center Staff phone: (907) 229-9060
Glacier Ranger District phone: (907) 783-3242
Staff email: staff@chugachavalanche.org

Present and Past Forecasters

Wendy Wagner, Director and Avalanche Forecaster

Wendy began working with the CNFAIC during the 2010/11 winter season. She comes from the Wasatch Mountains of Utah where she was not only born, raised and learned to ski, but melded into the avalanche field under the mentorship of the Utah Avalanche Center. She has a Master’s degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Utah, with an emphasis in mountain weather and snow science. Wendy has presented her research at the Mountain Meteorological Conference and multiple ISSW’s. Two of her projects, co-authored with Utah Avalanche Center forecasters, include monitoring near surface faceting and defining travel advice for the avalanche problems. Wendy spent time in Anchorage during her first career as a US Ski Team Nordic athlete and is a two time Olympian (2002 and 2006). She is a Professional member of the American Avalanche association and a wilderness first responder. Any spare time found is spent perfecting her snowmachine powder skills and geeking out over snow grains. In the summer, she can be found commercial fishing on her family’s set-net site on Kodiak, exploring Alaska’s mountain bike trails or smoke forecasting for wildfires.

Andrew Schauer, Lead Avalanche Specialist

Andrew joined the CNFAIC during the 20/21 season. He is came to Girdwood after forecasting for the West Central Montana Avalanche Center in Missoula, MT. He earned a M.Sc. in Earth Sciences from the Snow and Avalanche Laboratory at Montana State University, where he studied associations between atmospheric patterns and deep persistent slab avalanches. While finishing school, he spent a season as an intern at the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, and became actively involved in their education program. He has also worked as an instructor for the American Avalanche Institute, teaching everything from Rec 1 courses to National Avalanche School Pro field sessions. He is still very active in the research community, and is currently working on a project developing large-scale, GIS-based automated avalanche terrain maps with an international research team, as well as several projects relating atmospheric patterns to avalanche cycles in the western U.S. His motivation for all of the school and research and work comes from his drive to be out in the mountains and his desire to share that passion with anyone else around. If there isn’t any snow on the ground, you can find Andrew on his mountain bike, playing bluegrass with friends, landscaping, or getting in way over his head with renovation projects at his house in Livingston, MT.

John Sykes, Avalanche Specialist

John started 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 CNFAIC. 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.

Mik Dalpes, Avalanche Specialist

Mik Dalpes grew up in Minnesota where skiing consisted of getting a tow behind a snowmachine and wearing a full face mask at all times. She quickly made her way to Colorado and while earning a degree in environmental studies and geography from the University of Colorado in Boulder, she began a career in ski patrolling. Mik spent five years at Arapahoe Basin then transitioned to Alyeska. She finished her eight year Alyeska career as the Assistant Patrol Director with her loyal co-worker and avalanche dog “Zooka.” At this time Mik’s summers were spent guiding and teaching sea kayaking and mountaineering for the Outward Bound School in Seward, AK. Her career in the federal government began in 2015 working as a Ranger at Kenai Fjords National Park. For the last four years she has been in Talkeetna employed as a Mountaineering Ranger for Denali National Park. For almost a decade Mik has been instructing avalanche courses for the Alaska Avalanche School and is a self described ‘passionate supporter of public land and public safety and is looking forward to this opportunity and the next chapter in her career’. Off the field, Mik tells us her favorite things are spending time doing anything with her amazing family, which includes her husband Mark and two kids, Bowen (5) and Tide (2).

Daniel Krueger, Avalanche Specialist

Daniel Krueger grew up in the nearly snow-free state of Georgia, far away from mountains but has made Moose Pass, Alaska his home. He attended West Georgia University where he graduated with a degree in Geology. In college he learned to snowboard, traveling out west any chance he could get. His love for the mountains landed him in Bozeman, Montana where he took his first avalanche courses and worked at the local ski hill teaching snowboarding. Daniel’s first exposure to Alaska happened when he spent one summer working for the Forest Service in Moose Pass. In pursuit of his future wife, they moved to Moose Pass in 2016, where he led a trails construction crew in the summer and taught at Alyeska in the winter as an instructor and trainer. His love of snow science and backcountry shredding steered his winter career in a new direction when he accepted a position as a backcountry guide in Japan. There he met Bill Glude, snow guru and avalanche forecaster in Japan and Skagway, Alaska. After guiding in Japan, Daniel reconnected with Bill in 2021 and worked under his mentorship as an avalanche forecaster in Skagway for Alaska’s DOT and the White Pass Railroad.

Daniel continues to work trails out of Moose Pass, teach and train at Alyeska, and now instructs for the Alaska Avalanche School. When Daniel is not working in the woods you can find him climbing with his board to peaks where snow lingers long after winter’s retreat, mountain biking the brown pow, packrafting, hunting for moose, and fishing for salmon with his wife Sarah and pup Clover.

Mary Gianotti, Chugach State Park Avalanche Specialist

In the summer of 2023 the Friends of the Chugach Avalanche Center and Chugach State Park formed an agreement to create an Avalanche Specialist position for Anchorage’s Front Range mountains. This is an exciting first step in providing avalanche information for this high-use area!

We are excited to welcome Mary Gianotti into the role. Mary will begin issuing field observations and weekend updates in early December. She grew up in Juneau, where she found her love for snow (and rain) at a young age. Mary received an Earth Science degree from Boston University; today, she guides clients on Denali with @alaskamountaineeringschool and is a lead instructor for @akavalancheschool . She’s also worked for @nolsedu for nine years as a senior field instructor—where she’s seen snowpacks from around the world, including Teton Valley, the North Cascades, Alaska, New Zealand, the Himalayas, and more. Last spring, Mary was a Professional Observer for @h_p_a_c and helped with a Denali Search and Rescue set-up patrol. Mary has unconditional love for snow, mountaineering, and for the harsh but breathtaking landscape of Alaska, and is excited for her role with the Chugach Avalanche Center.

Graham Predeger, CNF Safety Manager/ CNFAIC Ambassador

Graham was born and raised in Anchorage. He migrated to the Vail Valley after receiving a natural resource management degree from Colorado State U. and spent eight winters working for the Forest Service as a backcountry snow ranger on Vail Pass. In 2011 Graham returned to Alaska and the Chugach National Forest where he worked for 6 seasons as an avalanche forecaster for the CNFAIC.  He continues to pinch hit as a guest forecaster when needed. Graham has played an instrumental role in engaging the motorized community into the avalanche scene here in Alaska.  He serves on the Board of Directors for the Alaska Avalanche School in addition to instructing snowmo-specific avalanche courses across the State. Spare time is spent outdoors in Alaska creating opportunities and shared experiences with his family! Favorite activities include skiing, snowmobiling and biking in the winter and exploring Alaska’s waterways via jet boat during the summer months.  He is a Professional member of the American Avalanche Association and an AvPro graduate.

Jeff Nissman, Honorary Forecaster

Jeff was killed in a roof avalanche in 2004 in Portage Valley while working for CNFAIC. Jeff helped Skustad in the early years of the avalanche center as a forecaster. Jeff’s love and spirit for the mountains can be felt above tree line in Turnagain Pass most every day. Jeff developed the first avalanche website for the Avalanche Center and this site is dedicated to his memory.


The roots of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Info Center (CNFAIC) arose from the tragedy that occurred on March 21, 1999 at Turnagain Pass where 6 snowmachiners were killed in a massive avalanche. Carl Skustad took the lead for the Forest Service and followed the business plan set up by the National Avalanche Center which guides new Avalanche Centers to start slowly to help ensure long-term success. In the fall of 2001, a phone line and a basic web site, designed by the late Jeff Nissman, put out snow pack and weather observations 5 days per week for the Turnagain Pass Area. The Center did not put out Avalanche Danger Ratings nor do any actual forecasting of avalanches. Skustad would spend time in Ketchum, Idaho being mentored at the Sawtooth Avalanche Center to learn about their operation. An appropriation from US Senator Ted Stevens in 2002 provided funding for the first 5 years of operations allowing the Center to purchase snowmachines, trailers, rescue cache, and several weather stations.

Friends of the CNFAIC was created in 2003 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to broker the funds from the appropriation, none of which could be spent on employee salaries. The Friends group represents corporate sponsors, partners, and individual donors who’s contributions help cover the gap between limited federal funding and the actual expenses of operating the avalanche center. Today, donations from our MEMBERS and SPONSORS covers the salaries of 2 seasonal forecasters, the center’s necessary equipment, interns, scholarships, the costs of maintaining this website and our network of remote weather stations, outreach events, and partnerships with the Southcentral Alaska avalanche community.  Thank you, Friends!

Another tragedy affected the new CNFAIC in 2004, Technician Jeff Nissman was killed by an avalanche of ice falling off of a building in Portage. The winter of 04-05 would see the hiring of 2 Forestry Techs, part of whose job duties would be working at the Avalanche Center, these were Dan Valentine and Matt Murphy. Valentine vacated his position and was soon replaced by Lisa Portune in the winter of 05-06. The team of Skustad, Murphy and Portune each received all the Avalanche training the USFS had to offer.

This team was in place for the next 6 years and the Center started issuing actual Avalanche Forecast products, seven days a week, in 2009 including Danger Ratings. Observations were also compiled once a week for the Summit Lake area of the Chugach National Forest by Seward Ranger District tech Alex McLain starting in 2007. 2010 was a year of transition as coincidence would find that Skustad, Murphy and Portune all would leave the Center for new jobs. Portune was around for the first half of the season which saw the hiring of Kevin Wright for the full season and Wendy Wagner was able to fill in for Lisa after she left midway through the winter. Wright directed the center for three years before embarking on a different career and Wagner stepped into that role the fall 2014. Her position became a permanent position with the USFS in the fall of 2015. Meanwhile, bolstering the team since 2011 is Graham Predeger who runs the Recreation program on the Ranger District. Predeger has been instrumental in engaging the motorized community in the avalanche center. John Fitzgerald forecasted for the Center from 2012-2015. Heather Thamm forecasted from 2014-2019. Aleph Johnston-Bloom was Lead Forecaster from 2015-2021. Ryan Van Luit forecasted for the 2019/2020 season. Andrew Schauer began forecasting for the 2020/21 season and moved into the Lead Forecaster role in 2021/22. John Sykes, beginning in 2021/2022, fills out the full time forecasting team of three.

Today the CNFAIC is the only Forest Service National Avalanche Center in Alaska. With funding help from Friends of the Chugach Avalanche Center, CNFAIC is able to employ 3 avalanche professionals who provide daily forecasts from November through April and provide detailed observations and forecasts in the Turnagain Arm area.