Avalanche Top Page

Jim Frankenfield

Avalanche Safety Courses and Services

1338 Foothill Dr. #170; Salt Lake City, UT 84108
1-877-604-0166; Contact Me Online

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Background and Qualifications

This page provides my snow avalanche background. Prior to making the decision to focus all of my time on snow avalanches and outdoor recreation I spent time working in the computer/logical design field, the microelectronics field, the rocket motor field, and higher education.


[Jump to Resume]

I have an extensive background in education as well as in avalanches, both scientific and practical. I stay current in the field, and have attended many International Snow Science Workshops, two International Glaciology Society scientific conferences, and Snow Engineering conferences in Davos, CH and in Whislter, BC. In June 2004 and May 2005 I attended the second and third annual meetings between the German speaking avalanche warning services and representatives of the IFMGA in those areas. In 2005 and 2009 I attended the biannual meetings for all European Avalanche Warning services. In 2009 I also attended a commemorative conference in Galtur, AT on lessons learned and improvements made after the 1999 European avalanche cycle. At many of these meetings other than the ISSW series I was the only one, or one of only two or three, to attend from North America.

Continuing Professional education I have taken part in includes the Canadian Avalanche Association Technical Schools (CAATS) Level I course for transportation and resource industries, the CAATS Avalanche Terrain Hazard Mapping course, a CAA seminar on avalanche forecasting, and an American Avalanche Association (AAA) seminar on avalanche education.

I completed my M.Sc. degree in Snow and Avalanche Physics with the Utah State University department of Physics. I have spent significant time studying the very different snowpacks of the Wasatch range in Utah and the Cascade range in the NW. I have additional but less extensive experience in Canada, Europe and Alaska. I have climbed and skied for over 30 years. For the last twenty years or so I have done some professional guiding. I have authored a number of avalanche-related papers encompassing general interest, administration, and research. I have provided technical consulting services for property owners building in run-out zones, insurance companies, and developers. I have also been involved with several new avalanche mitigation products developed in Europe.

From 1992 through 1995 I served the Utah Avalanche Forecast Center as Chairman of the Board of Directors. In 1994 I founded the Cyberspace Snow and Avalanche Center. I continue to serve as the Executive Director of this globally recognized and highly respected project.

I obtained my first teaching experience as an undergraduate at RPI. Since then I have taught at several Universities in the US and a program in Europe. I have taught courses ranging from developmental to graduate in level, in both traditional and non-traditional formats and environments. While I continue to tutor students in Math and Science as my time permits most of my teaching now is in the field of Outdoor Education.

Avalanche education and related work (guiding, other outdoor education, and technical consulting) is what I do for a living, not something I do on the side.

Avalanche Related Resume

This is intended to emphasize avalanche related background, additional climbing background and training and specialized training such as medical and rescue has been omitted

Early Leadership Development

Eagle Scout with several Palms
1.5 years in Army ROTC, including leadership courses and labs

Formal Education

B.Sc. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ; Systems Engineering
M.Sc. From Utah State University; Physics (Snow/Avalanche Physics)
M.Sc. From Utah State University; Mathematics (Applied Math, PDEs, Chaotic Dyamics)

Select Non-academic avalanche training:

2000 - CAATS Avalanche Terrain Hazard Mapping
1999 - CAATS "Level I" for Transportation and Resource Industry
1998 - CAA Continuing Professional Development - Avalanche Forecasting
1980's - American Avalanche Institute Levels 1+2, Alta Utah

Education and Outreach Experience

  • Extensive experience teaching avalanche safety classes, mountaineering skills, rescue methods, and other topics as an independent mountain guide
  • Founder and promoter of the CyberSpage Avalanche Center, which has been a successful outreach program on an international scale
  • Employed by the University of Maryland European Division as a lecturer in Math, Physic, and Computer Science on US military bases throughout Europe
  • Employed as a teaching assistant throughout my studies, teaching engineering physics, graduate engineering, and mathematics at four institutions

Conferences Attended

International Glaciological Society:

  • 1997 (Chamonix, France)
  • 2000 (Innsbruck, Austria)

International Snow Science Workshops:

  • 1994 (Snowbird, Utah)
  • 1996 (Banff, Alberta)
  • 1998 (Sunriver, Oregon)
  • 2000 (Big Sky, Montana)
  • 2002 (Penticton, British Columbia)
  • 2004 (Teton Village, WY)

Snow Engineering Conference

  • 2004 (Davos, Switzerland)
  • 2008 (Whister, Canada)

Meeting of the European Avalanche Warning Centers

  • 2005 (Davos, Switzerland)
  • 2009 (Innsbruck, Austria)

Meeting on Cooperative Efforts between Avalanche Warning Centers and the IFMGA

  • 2004 (Zurich)
  • 2005 (Davos)

American Avalanche Association Education Workshop - 1999

Administrative Experience

President of the Board, Utah Avalanche Forecast Center - 1992-1995
Founder and Executive Director of the CSAC Avalanche Center, est. 1994


American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA)
American Avalanche Association (AAA)
American Alpine Club (AAC)
Alpine Club of Canada (ACC)
International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS)
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

Field Experience

  • Detailed tracking of the snowpack in the Logan, Utah region for 3 years
  • Approx. 8 years skiing and winter climbing in the Wasatch range of Utah
  • Experience in the Oregon Cascades skiing, climbing, and assisting the ski patrol with instruction of their advanced avalanche and advanced mountain travel courses as an "outside expert resource", approx. 10 years
  • Multiple trips to the European mountains for climbing, including visits to the Swiss Institute in Davos and the Austrian research center in Innsbruck
  • Four multi-day solo off-season ski mountaineering glacier tours in Austria
  • Numerous trips to the Canadian Mountains for ski touring, ski mountaineering and ice climbing in the Rockies, serving as leader/organizer on many of them
  • Instruction of recreational courses, basic and advanced, in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Utah, Nevada, New York, New Hampshire and Alaska


Pore Space Characterization of Wet Snow in the Pendular Regime

Proceedings of the International Snow Science Workshop in Banff, 1996.

Volumes and areas of pendular rings with non-zero contact angles

Accepted for publication in Water Resource Research but withdrawn. Copyrighted.

Building Community Support and Diversifying Funding for Backcountry Avalanche Forecasting

Proceedings of the International Snow Science Workshop in 1994, Utah

Snow Stability and Avalanches

A five part series which appeared in the Wasatch Mountain Club "Rambler"

Avalanche Awareness for Snowmobilers

Written for Snowmobiling ONLINE which is not online anymore.
Abridged version reprinted by Rocky Mountain Powersports

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