Hey, Spike! provides a glimpse to hot and cold Danny Moroz
December 21, 2016
There are people who think they know snow — then there's Danny "Amos" Moroz, a real ice and fire expert.
Danny has been at Copper Mountain Resort for 31 years, starting out as a certified ski instructor and moving over to ski patrolling for 29 years.
He is a snow science expert.
Now he works as a fire expert.
And, ironically, Moroz means "frost" in Russian, Danny points out.
"I currently work as the fire marshal for the Copper Mountain Consolidated Metropolitan District, which is separate from the Copper Mountain Powdr Corp., but I'm still involved with Copper Mountain on a daily basis," Danny says.
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Yep, his life runs hot and cold.
Before the Copper Fire hired Gary Curmode as its chief, Danny served as the department's interim leader. He had been a fire inspector at Lake Dillon Fire and Rescue after "retiring" from ski patrolling.
Danny's work life on skis started at age 16 back in Connecticut at Powder Ridge. He is just two years shy of marking 50 years at work for ski resorts.
Born in Seattle, Washington, Danny moved to Connecticut at age 5, living there until graduating at 21 with a bachelor's in geology and a minor in marine biology from the University of Connecticut (Storrs).
Then Colorado called, and he answered.
Danny worked in the snow safety department on the Copper Ski Patrol, starting in 1977 and over the years earned Level 1, 2 and 3 avalanche certifications while patrolling.
A certified instructor for the American Avalanche Association since 1994, he has taught for the American Avalanche Institute out of Jackson Hole, the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council, Colorado Mountain College, the National Avalanche School, and the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education.
He's addressed two International Snow Science Workshops, the latest held recently in Breckenridge that drew over a thousand attendees.
He's also presented at six of 15 Colorado Snow and Avalanche Workshops.
"I have also spoken at the New Zealand's Mountain Safety National Snow Workshop in 2005 and taught with the same group in 1986," he notes.
In addition to those events, Danny's been an avalanche consultant for several large projects and mines.
"I try not to use the term 'expert' as I'd rather use the term 'trained observer' of avalanche conditions, because Mother Nature always will have the upper hand. Some days you have more questions than answers with the avalanche problem. You learn to be humble in the face of the power of an avalanche," he offers.
If you're a Facebook "friend" of Danny's, you get a daily free detailed weather report — in clear, concise terms; news you can use.
"I started doing a local weather forecast/avalanche information blog on Facebook in 2010 after I had badly broken my upper arm on the first day of ski season," he explains. "With 13 screws, a plate, and several operations later, Humpty Dumpty was put back together."
Due to the severity of the injury he had to sit out the 2010-11 season, a huge snow winter.
"Since I couldn't work for about six weeks I started to write a daily localized weather and avalanche report to help backcountry users have the best local information for decision-making about the avalanche hazard and travel in the backcountry," says Danny.
"Hopefully, it helped backcountry users make informed choices for their day and to be safe. I am proud to say I have done this thread daily year round for six years and only have missed a couple of reports when I was away from Internet or cell phone coverage," he adds.
Like his two hot and cold careers, ski patrolling has contrasts of good and bad experiences.
"I have too many positive experiences to list — from helping critical patients to witnessing incredible triggered avalanches, to meeting unbelievable people," he says.
Over the many years, Danny worked with patrollers such as: Mickey Johnston, Billy Westbay, Larry Schmidt, Sam Parker, Bill Rode, Chuck "CJ" Julian, Paul Greco, Bob Winsett, Chuck "CT" Tolton, Bruce "Popeye" Cochran, Mark Koepke, Don Riggle, "and about 100 more."
Thirty-three years ago this month, it was an avalanche that hit close to home, resulting in the death of a fellow patroller.
"Unfortunately, losing Mickey Johnston to an avalanche probably shaped my teaching career," he recalls. "It didn't need to happen so if I can influence someone into making the 'right' decision through proper education concerning avalanche hazard identification and proper route finding, then I did my best to contribute to the safety of others."
Every year since Mickey's death in that avalanche in Graveline Gulch, his buddies have trekked to the top of Copper Peak at 12,441 feet to remember him. Dec. 18, 2011, Spike! joined them.
Here's a link to that column: http://www.summitdaily.com/news/hey-spike-covers-a-copper-gathering-of-friends/
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