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.)
Here is the latest news on what is new and how certain projects are going. We are always working hard to keep the site current and to upgrade it in various ways. This constant attention and improvement is what has made the CSAC Avalanche Center the foremost source of information on the web for the past seven years or so. Visit us periodically at http://www.avalanche-center.org/ to stay current in the area of snow avalanches.
Before reviewing what is new in each of our sections there are a couple projects which deserve mention. Our plan and intent is to continue both of these projects although both will probably resume next season after we finish the reorganization and re-focussing which we are working on this year.
The first project is the Avalanche Gazette. This newsletter was very popular, at least in its free non-printable format. While we have been hoping to work on a new issue for six months now we have decided that we simply lack the resources required at the moment. The editors have both been too busy with other work to seek materials, collect them, and assemble a newsletter. While we are taking a reprieve for the current season we have every intention to bring this back next season.
The second project is the "Avalanche Zone", www.avalanche-zone.com,
which is a collective of sites with avalanche information. We still
believe that this has a great deal of merit, but getting people to participate
has proven to be difficult. Several sites expressed interest and are
listed, but only three took the time to put the appropriate search box
on their own pages. We also lost the free Sandy-Bay search engine services
this year. The sites remain collectively searchable but we can no longer
log in to adjust the engine and the logo no longer displays. Before
we can work on expanding this site we will need to either see if Sandy
Bay will provide us with affordable or free service as a non-profit
or locate and configure an alternative. We don't expect to have time
to deal with this over the next few months but hope to address it before
Current Conditions Section
We've updated the format of the bulletins which we post this season.
From the avalanche bulletin pages it is possible to go directly to the
archives for that bulletin or subscribe to receive it by e-mail. They
There is some information which is not issued by any government agency but rather by a nonprofit group or an individual. For the eastern Sierra in California the information made available through the Bardini foundation is, as far as we know, only available online through our site. There is also informal information (which is better than no information) for the Valdez area and we have a link to that as well. Some other sites refuse to carry or acknowledge this information because it does not originate from a government agency.
Finally, in the process of reorganizing the site we have terminated the Current Conditions forum since it wasn't being used. We will continue some of our other forums including the Professional Resources board and the General Discussion.
This section continues to see heavy use, probably because it is unique on the web. It is updated constantly with information on incidents all around the world. We have finally adopted a consistent template which is used for all reports and are working on updating our files from previous years.
This year we have introduced database technology to our incidents section. All of this seasons incidents are added to the database as they are posted and we have last years back to Feb 1 included as well, for a total of well over 140 incidents. The search page which is publicly available will return up to a maximum of five incident entries, contributors can access a search page which will return and unlimited number.
The database is beginning to gain popularity and is an easy way to
list (and count) all incidents in a given month from a certain country
or involving certain activities (highways, skiing, snowmobiling, etc).
There are many cases where we receive updated information quite a bit
after the incident actually occurs. Contributors can subscribe to a
list which is used to notify people of all incident updates, daily.
Professional Resources Section
We have nearly completed a reorganization of this entire section - cleaning up links, reformatting the pages, and improving the selection and accessibility of information.
There is a small but informative collection of material related to legal and liability issues. The data recording forms which were previously in the Download Section are now available in this section. We have also started a section with links to resources for recreational safety course instructors.
While the section has been greatly improved we still have a few parts of it to complete. Some links still need to be tracked down and we need to decide what to do with the weather resources area.
Several weeks ago we spent three days working on the store pages. All product pages are on a new clean template and all of the shopping cart entries and order forms should work. We had developed some problems this fall and people had some trouble ordering certain items. It took a while to learn about the problems but they are all fixed now. We still have at least one or two of every beacon model in stock as well as a collection of shovels and probes. Most items we don't have in stock can be ordered within a few days.
Remember that purchases made through our store help to fund all the resources which we make available. Contributors to the project can also order additional CSAC shirts at discounted prices, get a free bottle or pack of decals when ordering on the shopping cart, and get free shipping when using the order form. (The first two of these benefits are now available through the Contributor Services section and not directly on the store page.)
Due to all of the work described above we have put less time into this section recently, although at the beginning of the season most of it was updated.
We have been working our way through another pass on the glossary. This is a large and ongoing project, on this pass we are continuing to delete some terms, combine others, and apply a consistent format to all entries.
This section has been kept in good condition but since CSAC Canada
is entirely unfunded (as opposed to just poorly funded like the main
organization) there are no immediate plans to improve this. Use of the
Perhaps if use of the section grows and the organization receives some support we will be able to improve the level of service.
Other and Download Sections
We are continuing to phase these areas out. Most of the "Other Cool Stuff" section has either been moved or dropped. The Avalanche Gazette remains in this section at the moment, as do the avalanche statistics (which need to be updated before relocation). The Download section is still mostly intact although the data recording forms can now be found in the Professional Resources section.
As you can see, our site is not a stagnant one. We have not put up a nice front page, let the rest go stale, and promoted heavily. Our approach has been to do our best to keep the entire site as current as possible. During this season of reorganization we have actually done less direct promotion of the site. We believe that the people we are trying to reach know the site, or find it quickly if they are making any effort to find such material.
Keeping such a site current, answering as much of the e-mail as we
can, and offering first-rate service to contributors for the resources
they access is not a trivial project. If it were we would not be unique.
How you can Help
Aside from the obvious (contributing what you can afford to financially) you can help this project grow stronger and offer more in a few ways.
Help us promote the project by linking to the site, and by suggesting to other relevant sites that they link to it.
Get some of our cool new decals with the skiing skeleton logo on them. Shipping is built into the online store, but if you want to order just a few decals you can send an order in the mail and leave the shipping off. We've sold a few packets of 100 and a few orders for gear have included a few decals as well. We need to find a way to sell them online without the shipping cost but don't have time right now. If you are involved in an event in any way related to avalanche safety let us know and we may send you decals at no charge. While we don't guarantee it we have been including a few decals for free with most orders for books and equipment, so that is another way to get a few. (We would just give them out but don't have the budget. So we are selling them in various quantities and pricing as well as giving some away.)
Stay Aware, Stay Informed, Stay Safe
We hope you find the resources we provide to be beneficial and hope they will help you enjoy the winter season safely.