Avalanche Information for West Central Montana

Board of Directors

Mark Waller

Mark Waller has spent the last 17 years in and out of the ski industry. He began his alpine explorations in the northeastern US. He moved to Missoula in 1995, providing him with greater access to the mountains of the western US and Canada. As an EMT and ski patroller at Montana Snowbowl, he participated in search and rescues, avalanche control and emergency responses. Outside of work, he also participated in these types of activities, with a greater focus on the skiing. His passion for skiing in the backcountry and his acknowledgement of the risks involved with the sport prompted him to pursue a Level 2 Certification with the American Avalanche Institute. After a lengthy stint at the University of Montana, Mark received a BA in Geography, focusing on Cartography and GIS. Today, he works as a land surveyor with Morrison Maierle Inc. His favorite ski partners are his wife, Lauren and 2-year-old son, Lukas.

Spencer Bradford

Spence feels fortunate everyday to be raising a family in West Central Montana. Currently employed as the Product Line Coordinator and Merchandise Manager at Big Sky Brewing, Spencer has had such diverse jobs as a television producer/director, river guide, photographer, and a night artesian bread baker. An avid telemark skier, Spencer won first place in the Slalom, and second place in the GS in the citizen class at the Telemark Nationals in Steamboat Colorado in March of 2007. Although comfortable in the “gates” Spence’s first love of skiing is powder in the Montana backcountry with friends. As president of the Missoula Whitewater Association he has enjoyed exposing people safely to all forms of river recreation, and was part of the effort to construct Brennan’s Wave on the Clark Fork River. Spencer also enjoys spending time with his wife Molly and his daughter Elizabeth, reading, photography and creating video, mountain biking, hiking, and making fish laugh with his fly-fishing skills.

Ross Peterson

Ross is a Missoula native and life-long winter enthusiast who’s Montana roots run through 4 generations. He spent his late teens and early 20’s as a professional snowboarder and was lucky enough to ride and compete at resorts and backcountry locations across the continental US, Alaska, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Europe.  Spending that time traveling eventually made him all he more appreciative of the incredible (and less crowded) mountains in his home state. He graduated from the University of Montana with an art/media arts degree and put his creative talents to work as art director/web developer here in the Missoula valley. He is a founding member of the Montana Skatepark Association. Ross was a key cog in the $750,000 public skatepark project in Missoula’s McCormick Park. The 16,000 sq. foot structure was donated to the city of Missoula and is free and open to the public 365 days/year. He volunteers as much as possible in Missoula and enjoys hanging out with his family, working on home remodeling projects, and traveling to warm places with his surfboard whenever possible.

Mike Birnbaum

Born in Butte America and lover of all things related to snow, Mike joined the board in November of 2011. Mike has spent the majority of his life in Missoula and in the last decade has began to see the endless possibilities that the greater Western Montana area offers with respect to quality back-country snow. Mike joined the board to help promote the art of traveling on Montana snow in the safest way possible, while still having incredible fun. Mike was recently certified as an EMT as well. Mike spent a little less than a decade living in, and around, Seattle and chasing storms around the Pacific Northwest. He also lived in Whistler/BlackComb for two seasons while studying Canadian. Mike has traveled to ski destinations in Argentina, Chile, France, and Switzerland and also spent a year in New Zealand seeking their pockets of fantastic southern snow. He is joined in life by his wife Lisa and their two boys, Trace and Emmitt. He is a sagittarius.

Justin Metcalf

Justin spends the majority his free time in the mountains and rivers of Montana and Idaho. Growing up in a variety of places, he has lived in Alaska and Montana since 1994 and is a graduate from the University of Montana. As a former member of the Gallatin County Search & Rescue teams, Justin has experience with all manner of first responder rescue and/or recovery responses. He joined the board for WCMAF because he strongly believes in furthering the education of avalanche safety in the backcountry. Justin is a partner with Rocky Mountain Development Group and works to develop affordable housing nationwide.

Zachary Millar

After catching the taste for snow in his native state of Pennsylvania, Zachary moved to New Hampshire to attend school and snowboard race competitively. Traveling around the greater part of Europe and the Western United States, Zachary finally landed in Missoula to attend college and have access to amazing backcountry terrain. After completing a BA in creative writing, he split his time between being a professional musician and recreating in Montana’s back yard. As Distribution Manager for Big Sky Brewing Company over the last ten years, Zachary has been behind the brewery’s support of all kinds of recreation in Montana. He enjoys exploring regional skiing locales and experience everything Montana has to offer with his Family. Wife Sarah, and daughters Gillian and Lucy prove to be his favorite ski partners and are always ready for an adventure.

Mark Fricke

Mark was born and raised in the beautiful Bitterroot and Missoula Valleys, and developed a passion for skiing and the Mountains at a very young age. Mark’s interest in backcountry skiing was sparked in the dry powder of Utah in 1993. After three seasons of ski adventures around the Northwestern United States, Mark returned to Missoula. Graduating from the U of M with a degree in Business in 2002. During college Mark worked 4 seasons on the professional ski patrol at Snowbowl prompting him to acquire a Canadian level 1 avalanche certification in 1999. Mark is a Real Estate agent, property manager, and Registered Respiratory Therapist at St. Patrick Hospital. He joined the WCMAF Board to help promote, education, and encourage safe winter travel. Mark loves spending time with his wife and two daughters, rafting, camping, biking, and skiing.

Katy-Robin Garton

I was raised on skis all over the Rocky Mountain West. As the Gartons moved from Washington to Oregon, Montana and Wyoming, we finally settled in the deep Utah powder. One thing was always constant- snow. As a result, I am a powder enthusiast. Throughout college and graduate school I sought backcountry adventures in Alaska, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. I have always been a bit of a snow nerd, seeking avalanche knowledge and finding pleasure in digging pits to see the history of a snowpack unfold. I moved to Missoula in 2003, and quickly feel in love with the Montana backcountry. When not playing in snow, I’m exploring the world as a documentary filmmaker. Through my production company Sprout Films, I have traveled around the globe and across the country to capture and share compelling stories. I joined the board in 2013. Why… because engaging an audience these days takes more than the written word. As a filmmaker, I can help WCMAF develop a multi-faceted multimedia learning experience in which our audience absorbs avalanche safety in an effective and exciting way. My partner in crime is an energized doggie named Birdy.