An Update from the Avalanche Center
Online in html: http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/updates/
(To translate this update enter the URL "http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/updates/" and then follow the link on the translated page to this update. This way the entire page/update is translated.)
There has not been an update since December 2004 when the fundraising auction ran. This is a reflection of how overloaded I've become running the project, and this year was especially difficult since it started out with a huge loss to our credit card processing system. (See the http://www.avalanche-center.org/News/ for more details on that, as well as other issues which set things back last fall.)
This update is primarily for a couple short but overdue announcements. When I have time to think again there will need to be an additional update or two, supplemented by discussions on the forums, in order to help determine the future of the project. After ten years I can no longer run a non-profit public service project of this magnitude without more involvement from others. But more about that later, for now there are two important things to announce.
Due to a recent problem our lists for distributing the Swiss avalanche bulletins were emptied. These were quite large since the contribution requirement for most lists has not been enforced on these. So far only about 10 percent of the original list has resubscribed. Which may say something about how much people really value avalanche information services.
If you were on one of those lists you were not dropped due to any enforcement of a contribution policy, although that may become necessary in the future. You are welcome to resubscribe. We have not made any effort to find addresses to resubscribe, and we do not offer much user support for these lists since the number of people on them who contribute is negligible. So resubscribing is up to you.
We also had an inquiry a long time ago about spam that appeared to come from us. This is typically a result of forged headers, spammers make their email appear to originate almost anywhere. Some providers filter things better than others, and some leave it to the user. Email from the CSAC originates from an IP address of 184.108.40.206, if you filter mail based on its origin you can enter this to eliminate or reduce spam filtering of avalanche bulletins and updates.
End of Season Clearance Sale
As usual we have some inventory we'd like to get rid of for the summer which is on sale.Your purchase of these sale items also helps our cash flow for the summer and fall when we have continued basic expenses to cover and essentially no revenue. There are no beacons (although we may have an extra F1 arriving). There are a number of shovels and a lot of probes, as well as snow study kits and items like that. Everything left is posted on the sale page:
We can still special-order other items for you, but if its not on the sale page its not in stock until fall and will take a few days to a couple weeks to ship if special ordered. (Inquire if time is an issue, as always.) If it is on the sale page we're anxious to get rid of it and can ship it within a couple days, at the longest.
If you are a contributor you can log in and use the special sale page for even lower prices.
I've given some thought to holding a spring auction with a combination of store inventory and left over items from the fall. For many years we had very little left from the fall auction but participation last December was very disappointing and there are some items left on hand. Due to travel for reasons other than the CSAC I've been unable to make time to do this so far. I may still try it but suspect that mid-May will just not draw enough interest.
I've also tried to make use of our eBay account again and did sell one shovel there. Some items may still be sold that way. But again it can only be done when I have the time to monitor it, until other people get involved in an active and reliable manner. There is a link to a list of our current eBay auctions on the store page. Its currently empty, but watch it to see what happens in the future. Any internal auction experiments will also be linked there.
On a more general note, the store sales were at nearly an all time low this year. The move to PayPal doesn't seem to be a big reason since contributions are still level, so people have been using the new credit card processing without much trouble. Maybe its the strange weather this year, but probably its a result in part of widespread discounting online. By next season I plan to have a system in place to match any discount on any item. If you find a deal someplace else (other than special sales of limited duration or quantities) we'll match the price. This does raise more questions about the nature of the project, since I will need to spend more time retailing and the store generally provides 45% of the project funding. Fundraising is the one area where significant help is needed if this is to remain a non-profit.
I have meant for a while to recognize the use of our glossary by the Central Sierra forest service advisory. They are glossing their bulletins in a way that looks almost like the results of our own scripts. This is welcome and we're glad to see them using our resources.
A year or two ago we were asked repeatedly by another US Forest Service center about using the glossary. I encouraged this, and that request was the reason a prominent link to return to wherever you came from was added to each entry. After several reasonable requests they came out and asked if they could just take a copy of our glossary to use, without linking to our site. There is no good reason for that, and the glossary is constantly in progress and being updated.
That center ended up doing something else, since it seems to be agency policy not to acknowledge anything done outside. Links to the CSAC from any Forest Service site are rare, and the same can be said about other nonprofit sector projects.
So I'd like to acknowledge this productive use of our resources by the Forest Service Central Sierra advisory, as well as a regular link and reference to our bulletin archives by the Mt Shasta center.
Many advisories have ended for the season. The list of links to general spring condition information is back in place and can be found on the main Education Section page (http://www.avalanche-center.org/Education/). Since there is no daily bulletin for most areas in spring it is a good use of a few minutes of your time to review the various pages linked to. These highlight some of the important things to keep in mind in spring and early summer.
I hope in another 2 weeks or so to issue another update with a bit more on the status of the CSAC as a public service project, and how (and why) people should consider getting involved to ensure that it exists as a non-profit into the future. Initial information will be in that update and those that care enough to help out can then discuss ideas and plans on a forum which will be set up for that purpose.
Have a safe and enjoyable spring skiing season!