Montgomery Atwater (deceased)
Year Inducted: 1979
Born: October 21, 1904 Baker City, OR
Died: June 14, 1976 Sausalito, CA
Montgomery "Monty" Atwater was an American avalanche researcher, forester, skier, and author. He is considered the founder of the field of avalanche research and forecasting in North America.
He was born in Baker City, Oregon, and graduated from Harvard College in 1926. He worked a number of jobs including football coach, cattle rancher, and trapper. During World War II, he served in the 10th Mountain Division as a winter warfare instructor. After the war he served as a Snow Ranger for the Forest Service in Alta, Utah starting in the autumn of 1945. Over the next two decades he established the first avalanche research center in the Western Hemisphere at Alta, inventing many of the techniques and much of the equipment needed for avalanche forecasting and control.
Atwater served as director of avalanche control during the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California, successfully preventing any major avalanches during the games. Afterwards he helped develop and promote the Avalauncher, a pneumatic cannon for launching avalanche control explosives, and then retired from the Forest Service in 1964. In 1966, he repeated his masterful job of avalanche control at the alpine skiing World Championships in Portillo, Chile. In 1968, he wrote the book "The Avalanche Hunter."
In 1973, he was honored as the "father of snow avalanche work in the United States" by more than 125 colleagues from the Forest Service, the National Park Service, Yosemite Institute and the National Ski Patrol System at the Atwater Avalanche Honorarium in Yosemite National Park.