Gareth Brown, along with his wife and new baby, live in a small rural community about 40 miles from Valdez, Alaska. Brown grew up in the snow and found his passion in playing and studying the myriad snowflakes that blanket the mountains in the winter.
“I really enjoy getting into the snow to recreate, but I’m also fascinated with the science of snow,” said Brown. “It is a long, ongoing process to really be competent in predicting what the snow might do because it’s so dynamic and things are always changing.”
Sarah Carter, the Valdez Avalanche Center Director and a long-time forecaster and teacher, recruited Brown as an intern when she realized he wanted his life with snow to be more than a hobby. “Gareth inspires his community because he is always putting in ski tracks that others are able to follow because he chooses terrain that matches the conditions.
“He’s just a really solid individual who seeks every opportunity possible to know snow.”
Brown got his chance to focus on snow this year with a scholarship from the Erik Peterson memorial fund. A $250 scholarship supported his efforts to complete his American Avalanche Association bridge course from recreation to professional. He has also spent the winter honing his craft under the expert guidance and mentorship from professional forecasters like Alaska Department of Transportation avalanche forecaster and practioner Pete Carter, and Valdez avalanche center forecaster Peter Biskind.
“This scholarship means so much to me,” said Brown. “Having people support my efforts to be able to advance my career will ensure I am sustainable and have the opportunity to give back to my community.
“I would like to see more people get involved, especially with submitting observations, because I really believe that sharing is caring. I think when people realize they matter and that what they see and share with others could save a life, they will be more likely to post observations. This will provide the critical information we all need to be a safer, stronger community.”
Brown sends his sincere thanks and appreciation to the Erik Peterson Memorial fund for supporting his efforts to become a fully certified avalanche forecast practioner.