Avalanche Center Home Update - December 21, 2007

An Update from the Avalanche Center
December 21, 2007

Quick Links:

Quick Contents -

  • Store
  • Bulletins and Advisories
  • Project and Website News
  • Incidents - Last Seasons Totals, Current Season to date
  • Budget and Support

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(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.)

This is the second update for the CSAC Avalanche Center.

We now have gift certificates - for those of you who still need a last minute gift. These let the recipient apply them towards any equipment they choose in the store. There is a prominent link on the storefront page:


It's the end of the tax year, and a good time to consider donating to the Avalanche Center if you need a deduction on this years taxes. A short tip on end-of-the-year charitable contributions can be found here:


Money contributed to the CSAC goes entirely into supporting our work. Time is essentially all donated but real expenses have to be paid. We do not pass funds on to the federal government to pay their salaries and expenses, our funds stay entirely in the nonprofit sector and are used there. Details of our budgeting and finances are available on the website, and there is some information along with links below. Any questions or comments are always welcome in our forums in the Feedback section.

Remember that you can support the avalanche center by using Goodsearch and Goodshop.

Store and Equipment- http://www.avalanche-center.org/store/

We now have gift certificates available in time for the holiday season. Just use the prominent link at the top of the storefront page. These are implemented on the PayPal side, as opposed to the coupon system which is programmed into our side. Coupons need to be entered on our site immediately before checking out on the paypal secure server. Gift certificates are redeemed by entering the code on the paypal secure server page. They keep track of certificates sold and subtract any amount redeemed from the balance of the certificate until it's gone. This is a great way to give a gift of safety equipment to a partner or loved one without making the choice of product or model for them.

Remember that members who are logged in have a discount automatically applied to their cart and have no shipping charges. The discount is subject to change but has been 20% lately. On the Monday after Thanksgiving we joined the online frenzy of sales and raised it to 30-35% for one day. Members can join a list to receive email when that happens, or whenever the discount is changed at all. It's a small list but a couple people got some great deals that day.

With coupons, gift certificates, price matching, and member discounts there are plenty of ways to get a good deal now.

Our store has a few equipment articles and a library of user manuals. Both have been there a while but not always linked in so well. Jonathan Shefft has contributed a version in pdf of his multi-page beacon comparison chart. This is not a review or test, but a thorough comparison of features and pros and cons of various models.(This is in the Education section, but is also linked into the store articles page now.) The main storefront page now has links to the article list and the user manual library.

The newest firmware on the PIEPS DSP beacon allows one to check the frequency drift on other beacons. There is a topic on the forums where everyone can post their findings for comparison. I tested a whole collection and posted the results, and Jonathan Shefft has added a comment. More test results are encouraged. The only beacon drifted beyond acceptable limits so far has been a dual-frequency ARVA that is probably twenty years old, and certainly obsolete. The topic you can add to is in the General Discussion are of the forums:


Bulletins and Advisories - http://www.avalanche-center.org/Bulletins/

Most avalanche advisories are now being issued and are posting on the website with keywords and links. They are going out to the email lists as well. A few have been infrequent due to a lack of snow, especially in California. When the advisory consists of rehashed climatology info one could lookup elsewhere on the web you know things are off to a slow start. (Since first writing that things have been looking up a bit!)

Members can use any of the advisory email lists, and when you are logged in to the website there is also a form where you can add or remove list subscriptions all at once without any confirmation email. If you're logged in we know you're legitimate so the confirmation email isn't necessary.

There is a new advisory for Valdez, Alaska which how has a link from our main Conditions page. This is prepared by local avalanche and guiding professionals and is not a product of either the government or anyone without current credentials of some kind. It seems to be very well prepared, although it uses both the familiar public danger scale and a stability rating scale used by professionals. This may be problematic for people who are not familiar with the two scales and their uses, which is probably a large part of the public. In any event this new advisory is a big step forward for the area, which has lacked a quality advisory, professionally prepared, until now. There is also information on local education opportunities being offered by the folks writing the bulletin and hosted at the Brookside Inn B&B.

Project News - http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/

Here is a brief summary of some of the work thats been done over the past 6-9 months or so:

  • The site maps for each section were updated and are complete or close to it.

  • The site was checked for bad links and "orphans" (pages with no links to them) and there are very few of either.

  • The page templates used throughout the site are consistent and up to date. The entire collection of incident reports with the exception of about one seasons worth are now on consistent templates.

  • Sitemaps have been regenerated and resubmitted to Google and Yahoo several times.

  • The Freefind search feature was fixed. It hadn't been working correctly for a while but should be fine again. Freefind is an indexing and searching service we have used for a long time and drives the search boxes on each of the main section pages.

The textad program is ready to use and text ads may be purchased for 1, 3, 6 or 12 months. They will be run on a set of pages based on product or geography. We do not waste time tracking and charging for clicks, which inherently leads to fraud. Our text ads are a fixed low rate and the entire amount goes to support our work.

We also have a new affiliate program for referring both members and store sales. If you have a website, blog, club, related nonprofit, or other source you can refer enough people from you can set up an account with us and receive a return on your referrals.

We still want to put a little more effort into active promotion this season. We have paper bookmarks and if you can distribute these through local shops, clubs, huts, etc, we will be glad to send you some. Just send a request to snow@csac.org

Incidents - http://www.avalanche-center.org/Incidents/

Last years archives are as complete as they will be. Members can read the incident reports and do complete searches with the results sorted. Non-members can still do basic searches that will show the number of incidents and fatalities by state or country. Searches can now be done by state within the US, and also by minimum or maximum number of fatalities per incident.

Our massive archive of reports and the search feature that goes with it is unique and can't be found anywhere else on the web. Researchers and ski patrols have written to let us know they make good use of it.

Last year there were 22 fatalities in the US in 19 incidents. There are 33 report files, including non-fatal ones. There was only one report, with one fatality, from inside a ski area boundary. This seems to have resulted more from confusion over closures and their markings than any failure on the part of the control work. In Canada there were 7 fatalities in 5 incidents, with 6 reports on file. In France there were 20 fatalities in 16 incidents, with 18 reports filed. In Switzerland 21 people died in 15 incidents, including 6 in one incident in July which lead to reviews and legal proceedings. (See the News section.) Globally we have 111 reports with 259 fatalities. Another first was a report from Pennsylvania, where several slides blocked a highway but did not cause any injuries.

So far this season we have 18 reports and 38 fatalities. All of these are still listed on the main section page:


There is an RSS feed which is kept up to date as well as possible and it can be subscribed to on the main page above as well. Currently it is up to date. There is also an email list members can subscribe to for updates everytime additions are made to the incidents archive.

Budget and Fundraising - http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/finance/

The graphic on the home page with last seasons budget info has now been removed, but the final 2006-07 info, along with related links, is still posted: http://avalanche-center.org/Organization/finance/2006-2007/

So far this season we've received $1,530.14 from 56 contributions, for an average of about $28. This includes small donations of $3 added to store orders up to a few of $100 or more. We are fortunate to have a few regular contributors who are especially generous each season, but every dollar is important and appreciated. Our store has made net profit of $3,113.55 so far, which seems good for this time of year.

There are two things to note here. First, our annual budget need is about $20,000. That is just to pay the overhead cost of operating the project, and includes no salary or employment since time is donated. We pay all of our real costs, nothing is donated by government agencies, tacked onto other various accounts, or buried in separate overhead accounts. When you look at our budget information what you see is what you get, its a complete picture. Second, our store has traditionally brought in about as much as contributions but has been a growing percentage of our revenue lately. This means we end up spending more time on retailing than on the public resources. Our intent is to be primarily a public service resource, not primarily a retail store.

We've taken a lot of abuse from some people at times over the fact that we can't provide everything to everyone for free, with the implication that's a necessary thing for non-profits to do. I suggest looking at avalanche related non-profits on a site like Guidestar and seeing what they do and where the money comes from. One of the most profitable I found in the past provided nothing at all to the public for free and had all their revenue from teaching courses and consulting. We do what we can with what we have, and if you compare what we do for the public at large with other related non-profits we do pretty well.

If anyone has any questions or comments about our budget (or any other aspect of how things are run) please feel free to post them in the Feedback section on our forums. ( http://www.avalanche-center.org/phpBB2/) You do not need to register, although posting as a guest requires jumping through a few hoops in order to keep out the spammers.

In Conclusion

Hopefully there will be another update before the new year, we'll see. This one was supposed to be sent much earlier but new projects in the beta phase and early season retailing have taken up a lot of time. I will probably continue to work hard over much of the holiday. (I don't personally celebrate anything in particular, but do enjoy the spirit of the season. The only thing I would like for the holiday is support donated directly to the nonprofit. )

Best wishes for a white and safe holiday, and a successful New Year.

Executive Director

Avalanche Center Info