Mark Staples received a B.S. in Civil Engineering at the University of Virginia, began teaching ski lessons, moved to Bozeman, eventually working for Big Sky in 2002 and started as a professional ski patroller there in 2004. He returned to school and obtained a Masters Degree at MSU where he studied the energy balance of snow in mountainous terrain and its effect on weak layer formation. His work at the Avalanche Center began in 2006 as an instructor. The following year he was hired as an avalanche specialist.