An Update from the Avalanche Center
Online in html: http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/updates/
(To translate this update enter the webpage URL above and then follow the link on the translated page.)
Fall Fundraising Auction a Success
Our fourth annual auction is mostly wrapped up by now and was a great success. We had more items contributed by more companies than ever before. All items went out to high bidders. We raised somewhere around $3000 which is, for us, a significant amount. Thanks to all of the companies who contributed items (and are listed in our Avalanche Network) and thanks to those who participated by bidding.
Changes of Direction
Some of the things we are in the midst of working hard on represent some changes of direction for the site and the project.
Our goal remains maintaining a quality site that serves people needing and appreciating the information, over quantity which sprawls or high numbers of visitors who are randomly surfing through. (All visitors are welcome, of course. But we don't believe in the numbers game as a goal when it isn't backed by quality.)
We are trying to consolidate the site into fewer sections. Most material in the phased-out sections will be relocated to the remaining ones. We expect to phase out the "Other Cool Stuff" section and later the "Download" section. Our three major remaining sections will be Conditions, Incidents and Education and we will continue to maintain the less-used Professional Resources section as well. This consolidation will ultimately make it easier for us to keep things up to date with minimal bad links, etc. It also means less hunting around for what you are looking for.
Another change is to begin to offer a few more services and features for our contributors, in a new "Contributor Services" section which can be logged into. At this time the services which we offer to contributors include e-mail service for many US bulletins, the ability to search and sort our incidents database, access to our index of photos on the web and printable copies of the "Avalanche Gazette". Most of this is still available in less-enhanced forms to everyone - the Bulletins are web-posted with html links to our glossary, all incidents are available to read, and the Gazette issues can be read online (but not printed) by anyone.
We have a new home page in preparation which will reflect some of these changes. It's close to being put up online but still needs some refining and some more testing on different platforms. Watch for it soon!
New Things on the Site
Here is a section-by-section update of what has been going on lately:
Avalanche Store: We now have decals (stickers) with the skiing skeleton logo on them! They are 25 cents each or 100 for $15. The other new book we just added is "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain" by Bruce Tremper. Now that it's mid-winter we keep as well stocked as we can afford to and right now we have a couple of each beacon on the shelf ready to ship. So if you need that beacon for your next upcoming trip we can get it to you, regardless of which model you want. Finally, we realized that the store front page had problems with the many of the shopping cart entries. These have all been fixed and adding items to your cart from the main page should work for all items now. Each items product page is also being reformatted and as we get those done we are double checking the cart functions and the price fields. Special contributor services in the store include discounts on additional shirts purchased on the same order and either free shipping (from the form) or a free Nalgene Bottle (from the shopping cart). Remind us you are a contributor to get these breaks.
Current Conditions: We have been through the section a couple times to check on a few things. Almost all of the links should be good now. On the pages with the US bulletins we have gone through all the formatting to be sure that it is consistent and working properly. This has been checked daily and they are all formatting well. Finally, some people (with ulterior motives) like to question the currency and accuracy of our bulletins. All bulletins are current to within one hour (maximum) of their release, and all of the daily content is included. We've been doing this for 6 or 7 years now and have an excellent track record on this. Special contributor services in this section consist of our e-mail list service allowing subscribers to receive bulletins automatically by e-mail (also within one hour maximum of their release).
Incidents: At this moment we have 32 incidents which are reported in this section for this season. This is more than you will find anywhere else on the internet in a single tabulation. We have been reformatting last years and adding them to our sql database, which now has about 70 incidents in it going back to March 1. Very shortly it will go back to Feb 1. These can be searched and sorted by month, activity, and/or location. The public interface will return up to 4 records, the interface in the Contributor Services area will return unlimited records. Contributors can also subscribe to an e-mail list which is used to issue a daily list of updates on each day when any are made. We are only keeping the latest five reports on the front page now, and sometimes one is there for a day only, or even less. So the e-mail update is the best way to keep informed. Finally, the Incidents Section now contains the first hand accounts which were previously in the "Other Cool Stuff" area.
Education: While there is more to do in this area it has taken a back seat to the projects above for now. We do have a searchable database of courses. We include the courses of any commercial interest which contributes at least $35, pretty cheap for a seasons listing of all their courses. Non-profits can still list theirs for free. Many schools have no interest in spending this modest amount to help make our resources available to you, and some seem to be interested but find the concept hard to understand and follow through on. While there are other listings which are free they sometimes have unspecified criteria. One of our sponsoring organizations requested at least twice to be listed on the AAA website but received no reply and was never listed. So don't assume that other longer listings are complete, or unbiased. (This particular organizations courses are popular enough to have filled up anyway.)
How you can Help
In each update we like to suggest ways in which you can help our efforts.
Right now we are not too far past the end of 2001. If you suddenly realize you need additional tax deductions for 2001 please consider contributing to our work, there are ways that contributions made early enough this year can still work to your benefit on your 2001 taxes. We have 501c3 status in the US and charity status with Revenue Canada.
Many companies match employee contributions. If you are contributing yourself you can leverage this support into a higher amount by taking advantage of this. Only a few people think of this, but there seem to be a few more this year than in the past. We especially thank the several contributors from Microsoft who took the time to get matching funds.
Stay Aware, Stay Informed, Stay Safe
Let the 32 incidents already posted serve as a reminder to be safe and, when necessary, cautious. Do what you can to keep the rest of this season safe as well as fun for yourself and your companions. Use our site, http://www.avalanche-center.org/ , to keep on top of things.