Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center

About HPAC

The mission of the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center is to provide avalanche information and advisories to assist and educate the general public in avoiding avalanches. HPAC provides avalanche information and advisories for the Hatcher Pass area in the Talkeetna Mountains of Alaska.

Advisories are provided each Thursday and Saturday of the winter season, typically mid-Nov to mid-April. Avalanche warnings and significant weather and avalanche event updates are provided intermittently, depending on weather/avalanche events.  A public observation platform (in conjunction with the CNFAIC) is available all winter and monitored daily.


Avalanche Forecasters

Allie Barker

Director and Avalanche Specialist
allie@hpavalanche.org
Allie has been an avid skier since age 2 and climbing since the mid 90’s.  Allie switched out her race skis for a backcountry set up in the late 90’s, and has never turned back.  Since 2000 she has worked as an instructor and mountain guide for NOLS, Alaska Mountain Guides, Alaska Pacific University, Alaska Mountaineering School and Denali Guiding, and Arctic Wild. She is a current American Avalanche Association pro member, and has completed Avalanche Pro Level III, and is a Wilderness First Responder.  She has been an avalanche educator in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Washington, and Alaska.  Allie loves spending time in the mountains and especially skiing. Her combined skills and interest in skiing make her an exceptional avalanche forecaster.

In 2008, Allie co-founded the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center.  She has worked as an avalanche forecaster for HPAC since 2008. Most recently, Allie has delved into avalanche mitigation as well as improving her backcountry snow machining skills. You will find Allie growing nutrient dense food at Chugach Farm, hunting, fishing, foraging, fermenting food, and training her pup Chaga, in between her time spent digging snow pits and shredding powder.


Andy Paul

Assistant Avalanche Specialist
andypaul@hpavalanche.org
Andy has spent the last decade between Alaska, Wyoming and the Lake Tahoe region. He has worked as a ski guide, avalanche educator for the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) and winter and mountaineering course leader for NOLS. Throughout his snow career, he has worked in maritime, intermountain and continental snowpacks from California couloirs to the Indian Himalaya. He has spent multiple years as a volunteer pro observer for Sierra Avalanche Center and the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center and has a Pro 1 and Pro 2 with the American Avalanche Institute, both courses completed in Wyoming. He is currently an apprentice ski guide with the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and program supervisor for NOLS in Alaska, when he’s not working for HPAC. Andy is passionate about avalanche education, solving for uncertainty in remote locations with no forecast and honing the ever-changing gear for splitboarding.


Staff

Marissa Bieger

Executive Director and Education Coordinator
marissa@hpavalanche.org

Growing up in Buffalo, NY, Marissa’s love of snow was inevitable. Her passion for glaciers originally brought her to Alaska and she spent over ten years teaching for the National Outdoor Leadership School in Alaska, Patagonia, British Columbia, and Washington. She has supervised the NOLS Alaska summer mountaineering program and assisted Denali climbing rangers as a rescue volunteer. Marissa is passionate about providing avalanche education for Alaskan youth and creating pathways for women to work, climb, and ski in the mountains. When not out playing in the snow, you can usually find her gardening or knitting at her home in Palmer.


Claire Bicknell

Instructor

Claire has been a skier and climber from around the time she could walk and was raised exploring the backcountry of Colorado. She is a current Snow Science student at Alaska Pacific University where she is the president of the Alpine Club. In the summers Claire guides for Alaska Mountaineering School in the Alaska Range. Claire has received her Avalanche Pro Level 1 and plans to continue her education. Her favorite place to be is skiing in the alpine no matter the surface conditions.


Dylan Lenzie

Instructor

Dylan grew up snowboarding from the age of 11 in Wisconsin. He graduated with a degree in Outdoor Leadership and Geography and led outdoor trips for his university in the Appalachian Mountains. Dylan moved to Alaska in 2018 to work for the National Outdoor Leadership School. Alaska is where he fell in love with the backcountry and began pursuing a career playing in the snowy mountains. Dylan has an Avalanche Pro Level 1 certification, has been a guide for Valdez Heli Ski Guides and is an educator for the Alaska Avalanche School. He calls Palmer home and spends much of his free time exploring the mountains of Hatcher Pass all year round.


HPAC Board Of Directors

The Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center INC Board of Directors are a close knit group who are residents of Southcentral Alaska. They bring valuable skills to our organization and work as volunteers behind the scenes to fundraise and ensure operations are sustainable. Interested in helping the board, or joining as a member? Email us at info@hpavalanche.org

Andy Dennis – Board Chair

andydennis@hpavalanche.org
Andy spent many years working for NOLS as an instructor and Alaska Mountaineering Program Supervisor. He is now an RN in Palmer.  Andy is passionate about giving back to his community by helping to provide avalanche safety information at Hatcher Pass. In his spare time he enjoys chasing his wife and dog around the backcountry of Alaska.


Dave Rector – Vice Chair

Dave began his career as an outdoor educator in 2007 working for his campus outdoor recreation program at Georgia Southern University. He came to Palmer in 2010 to work for NOLS Alaska. During the offseasons he remained in Alaska and worked in recreation therapy, environmental remediation and ADF&G. He returned to Georgia in 2017 to attend graduate school and coordinate the campus outdoor recreation program at the University of Georgia. He now lives in Palmer with his wife and daughter and is a stay at home dad.


Brian Teachworth – Treasurer

Brian grew up in Alaska and spent much of his youth in the woods hiking, camping and cross-country skiing. He did not learn how to downhill ski until the young age of 30 after chasing his beautiful wife down to Bozeman, MT. He now lives at the base of majestic Lazy Mountain and spends most weekends out in the backcountry skiing. He enjoys giving back to his community and is excited to serve on the HPAC board.


Danielle Reed – Secretary

Dani grew up in Michigan, where she learned to ski starting at the age of three. While in college in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she worked as a ski instructor, joined ski patrol, and went from ski racer to telemark skier. Soon after she gave up her alpine skis for good and hasn’t looked back. In 2008 she moved to Alaska and spent 9 seasons volunteering on ski patrol at Alyeska. While on ski patrol she taught toboggan handling and avalanche level 1 classes. As a patrol Alumni, she still teaches avalanche education with the local patrols. She has spent many days at Hatcher and joined the HPAC board in 2017 as a way to give back to the community. When she isn’t skiing, she works for the Mat-Su Health Foundation. She lives in Fishhook with her husband, two kids, and two huskies.


Keeton Kroon – Board Member

Keeton was born and raised in the Mat-su Valley.  He grew up taking family adventures to Hatcher Pass and started backcountry skiing there in high school.  Currently, he teaches Mathematics at Palmer High School, enjoys skiing in Hatcher Pass on the weekends, and frequently going on adventures with his wife and children.


Tim Leach – Board Member

Tim Leach grew up skiing the “eastern blue packed powder” in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. During these formative years he learned of the direct connection between edge tuning, waxing, and speed. When he encountered real powder in the mountains of the west he had to relearn how to ski. As part of his apprenticeship to the mountains, Tim spent a decade-and-a-half leading courses with the National Outdoor Leadership School, teaching college students, business executives, and Naval Academy Midshipmen leadership and mountaineering skills. In his day job now, Tim is the Transportation Lead for Launch Alaska, a business accelerator partnering with game-changing startups from all over the world to deploy climate-tech solutions in Alaska. Tim lives in the heart of the Matanuska Valley with his son and husky and can regularly be found chasing light with his camera and adventuring in the mountains. No matter what the conditions offer, Tim is still striving to make perfect turns.


Matt Lemons – Board Member

Matt’s background is in climbing and splitboarding. He worked as a wilderness therapy guide in Utah before moving back to Alaska in 2011. He is now a realtor living in Palmer, and he is a member of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group.


Heather Johnson – Board Member

Heather moved to Alaska in 2014 to escape the flat cornfields of central Wisconsin. She learned to ski in her mid-20s on small icy Midwestern ski hills, so it didn’t take her long to appreciate the big mountain scene Alaska had to offer. She began backcountry skiing in the winter of 2015 and has taken her Level 1 and Level 2 with the Alaska Avalanche School. Heather has more than 15 years of non-profit experience, working in wilderness therapy, education, overnight summer camps, and fundraising development. She currently works as the Assistant Director for the Alaska Avalanche School. When she’s not working or volunteering, Heather can be found seeking out couloirs to ski in the Hatcher Pass with her partner Dean or skiing low angle cruiser runs with her husky, Deni. Heather resides in Palmer, AK.


Past Forecasters

Jake Kayes

2019-2023
Jake has been in Alaska since 2010 and has taught and guided for numerous avalanche and mountaineering schools. He came to HPAC in 2019 as a professional observer and forecasted for three seasons. Jake is passionate about educating all backcountry users across the state and continues to teach for the Alaska Avalanche School, while spending summers as a Denali Climbing Ranger and a climbing guide in the Lower 48.


Avalanche Forecast Boundary

Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center Boundary