Foundation-Funded Snow Ranger Monitors Avalanche Conditions in Grand Teton

Outdoor enthusiasts have long adored the Tetons for many reasons, one of them being the 400+ average inches of snow that falls on the range every winter, creating unrivaled backcountry skiing conditions. Snow science professionals at the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center (BTAC) make daily snowpack observations to provide the public with critical safety information before they venture into the unpatrolled slopes of the backcountry. Prior to four years ago, there was limited snowpack data coming from within Grand Teton National Park even though it makes up a large portion of the forecast area. In November 2018, the Foundation began supporting a park meteorological technician, aka snow ranger, in Grand Teton. Lisa Van Sciver, longtime valley resident and outdoor professional, gladly assumed the role and has been filling the data gap to help keep recreationists informed about conditions in Grand Teton National Park throughout the winter season for the last four seasons.

A weekly discussion on Grand Teton's snowpack is now available on the BTAC webiste. Photo courtesy of Scott Guenther.

Lisa brings over a decade of professional experience as a mountain guide and ski patroller. Her position with Grand Teton entails spending many hours on her skis, checking on multiple weather stations in the park, and digging snow pits to make firsthand observations. She then coordinates this information with the BTAC to provide morning and afternoon avalanche forecasts that can be found on the BTAC website.

Thanks to Lisa, the BTAC website now includes a weekly snowpack summary written specifically to Grand Teton National Park’s conditions. You can find it here, or under the Snowpack Observations section in the Data Center of BTAC's website.

Aside from daily snowpack observations, Lisa interacts with backcountry users in Grand Teton while also maintaining open lines of communication with park concessionaires, commercial guide groups, Teton County Search and Rescue, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol, and WYDOT. She also spends time early in the winter season in classrooms teaching avalanche education courses.

Another day at the office for Lisa as she collects data from a weather monitoring station in Grand Teton National Park.

The Foundation is pleased to support for Grand Teton’s snow ranger and the interagency collaboration between Grand Teton National Park and BTAC. If you would like to support this effort, visit our donate page and enter “Snow Ranger” in the comment field.

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