NSP Photo Contest

Dean Cummings' Bio

Dean Cummings became involved in outdoor safety education at a young age growing up in New Mexico. He worked as a guide assistant for the Santa Fe Mountain Center in his early teens and went on to become the team captain of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. This experience was followed by nearly a decade of competing on the World Extreme Skiing circuit, culminating with his claiming the World Title Championship in 1995.

He has appeared in 36 films and numerous television programs produced by Warren Miller, Matchstick Production, Teton Gravity Research, and others. Having started and operated a heli ski business and guided in Alaska for 19 years, Dean has gained an intimate knowledge of the snowpack and mountains of Alaska. Seeing that Alaska ranked number one in the nation for avalanche deaths, yet had the fewest people reacting, Cummings recognized the importance and critical need for education. He started a practical avalanche awareness training program for the general public in Valdez in 2000, and was instrumental in the founding of the North America Outdoor Institute. He authored and crafted the "Be Snow Smart" education program, which has reached more than 20,000 people with practical, easy-to-implement recreation procedures. He has developed protocols for remote mountain operations and established the American Mechanized Ski Guide training program that is endorsed by the U.S. Heli Ski Association. His experience and diligence in developing the highest standards in guiding and education have also helped him secure permits that allow him to share with skiers and snowboarders the largest heli ski operation in the world. Today, he operates a world-class remote helicopter guiding operation that plays host to top mountaineers, skiers and boarders from around the globe. To keep his resort and high-population area skills current, Dean helps out on the Snow Safety Team at Snowbird and has provided practical avalanche training to Snowbird Mountain Ski School in Utah. Additionally, Dean guides ski camps in Las Lenas, Argentina and Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. Over the years, Dean has invested time and a wealth of experience into the design and development of both hard and soft goods for safety equipment and clothing.

Today, Dean is recognized as one of the top big mountain skiers, mechanized ski guides working in glaciated terrain, and as a leader in outdoor safety and avalanche awareness education.

Dean's affiliations include the NSP, International Snow Science Workshop, Professional Ski Iinstrcutors of America, American Avalanche Assocaition, North American Outdoor Institute, TerraPass, and he is an active contributor to the Taylor Family Foundation.

When not sharing his experience and knowledge of mountain travel, Dean, wife Karen, son Wyatt Kodiak, daughter Tesslina, and Alaskan Malamute Kona, spend their time living in Valdez, Alaska and Snowbird, Utah.

H2O Guides