Like most mountain folks, Mark Mueller fell in love with snow culture at a young age. But after a few years of working as a cook and in the rental/ repair shops, he recognized he needed knowledge and skills to grow his passion for powder into a rewarding career.
It was in the early 1970’s when Mark learned about Colorado Mountain College’s Ski Area Technology program (now Ski Area Operations), and he knew education was the missing link.
“I loved the atmosphere, like-minded friends, and culture around the ski area,” says Mark, who is originally from San Carlos, CA. “I knew I wanted to do something ski area related. I read about Colorado Mountain College in Ski magazine and it sounded cool!”
Mark attended Colorado Mountain College Leadville from 1974 – 1976 and immersed himself in all things ski industry. His instructors, CK Lukow and Ken Host, taught him about lift maintenance, equipment operations, welding, and avalanche safety.
After Mark graduated from Colorado Mountain College he spent 15 winters at California’s Squaw Valley, including 12 years as Ski Patrol Director from 1980-1992. Then in 1992, he made the familiar migration back to the Colorado Rockies to pursue a career with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).
Mark spent his first winter back in Colorado patrolling for Wolf Creek Ski Area, and started with CAIC in the fall of 1993 working on a new highway avalanche forecasting program with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). In 2015, he was promoted to Lead Avalanche Forecaster at the Pagosa Springs Office.
“I love my job! Each winter is unique and the learning never ends,” says Mark, who has been with the CAIC for 24 years. “I work with great people at CAIC and in CDOT and I get to spend a lot of time on skis out in the snow.”
Although professional upward mobility in the ski industry can be challenging terrain to navigate, it is possible to achieve your dreams. With the help of Colorado Mountain College’s Ski Area Operations program, Mark turned his passion for powder chasing from a part-time job to fulfilling career.
“My advice to students or anyone who wants to work in the ski industry,” says Mark, “Is to dream your life and live your dream. Make it happen.”