Avalanche Center Home Update - November 4, 2010

An Update from the Avalanche Center

November 4, 2010
[Previous, Oct 20 ] - [Next, Nov 17 ] - [Updates Archive Index]


  • A New Special Deal !
  • Auction Update
  • Special Members Deal
  • Snowpack Climates (Current Quiz)
  • Store News

Quick Links:

Translate: https://translate.google.com/ (Opens in new window)

Welcome, This Issues Deal

This is the third newsletter of the season, and again it's it's light on project updates and has some educational content as well as news of special deals. If you would like a coupon code for 10% off your store purchases (valid until the next issue) read the whole newsletter. This is less than half the 25% we are currently offering members, but for small orders it may be preferable to some people. We also have one PIEPS DSP on sale in each of two places, and both are likely to be very good deal.

Free one month memberships were given out to 13 people after the last newsletter. Seven for emailing the keyword to us and seven that got a score of 90 (the median) or more on the current quiz. (One person got both, for two months of membership.) Congratulations!

Our work on the switch to a new format and service is progressing. Our notice to members about the 25% sale was sent to some people via the new service, and those plus a few more will be getting this newsletter in html via the new system.

Of course we have to remind everyone that there are costs involved in providing our services that we need your help covering. Any amount helps. Please consider helping us with whatever contribution you can afford and justify. If you are at all curious about our budget and finances we disclose everything in reasonable detail on the website. It has all just been updated to include final figure from last season. You can find all of this by starting at:


Updating all of this is one reason this issue is behind schedule.

Auction Update

New donations have been received from Backcountry Access (a beacon) and Crazy Creek (a couple chairs). We are just starting to get more response from the fax we sent out quite a while ago. As soon as this newsletter gets out another fax will be sent. You can keep up with the latest on the auction page:


Right now you will also find one of our PIEPS DSP beacons on sale there. From the auction link above click on the "Go to the Bidding" link at the top. It is currently at its starting price of $324.45, and the auction sees almost no traffic right now. So somebody should be able to grab this at a rock-bottom price. If you're not looking for one yourself you can let your friends know. (If you are then you might not want to get the word out!) You can also get to our auction as well as a listing of anything we have on ebay from the main store page. See the section at the end.

Special Members Deal

The deal has been announced and members can get 25% off all store purchases through November 8. (Like sending newsletters other tasks also get behind schedule so it may carry over a little bit beyond that, but no guarantee.) You need to be a current member to take advantage of this. Members never pay any shipping, and despite the big discount all beacon purchases are eligible for a discount of up to 80% on our new Avalanche Institute online Level 1 course.

The "Current Quiz" - Snowpack Climates

We are still running the same current quiz until a new one can be created and posted. Seven people got a score of 90% or higher, with 90% being the median. Those seven people received a free one month membership. The free membership offer is no longer valid but all scores of 100% will still be entered into a drawing to be held later some time.

In the last issue there was an introduction to snowpack climates, based on some email feedback from the quiz. Now that the snowpack is forming this topic is especially relevant. Let's consider what happens early in the season in the maritime and continental climates.

Recently, in late October, there was snowfall throughout most of the western US. The typical fate of this first layer differs between climates. In Colorado they are already talking about cold clear nights, which is turning this thin early snowpack into weak sugary snow. When the next storm arrives it will deposit a new layer on this and the usual result is a dangerous snowpack. In fact, since storms are distinct and often infrequent in this climate the weak layer that forms now is often a big concern all winter.

In a maritime climate the temperatures are more moderate. In Oregon it has returned to near record highs and one can tell even from a distance that much the early snow is melting away. Maritime climates also have frequent heavy snowfall which often prevents the initial layer from having time to weaken. In Thompson Pass, AK there is something like 100" of snow already. Even if the first layer does sit and weaken the higher density snow and more frequent storms bury it deeply before long when winter really does move in.

These differences in the snowpack, resulting from differences in climate, have major implications for the remainder of the year. In locations such as Colorado problems that may exist all winter are starting now, and most experienced people in such an area will be rather conservative all season most years. In the maritime regions any problems that may start now will become history even before the season gets too far under way.

It's very important to realize, again, that these are general characteristics. Remember that weather is what you see out your window while climate is a long term average. One of the years in our extensive incident archives has no reports of fatalities from Colorado for the whole winter. (It was almost a perfect season, until June when a climber died in a spring avalanche.) That year was not typical - it began snowing and kept snowing and the weak base never formed. The snowpack was also deep. People accessed terrain that year that they usually would rule out simply on principle. On the other hand, last winter in Oregon began more like a continental climate. A very weak base formed, a not so thick slab was later deposited on top of it, and there was one fatality and at least one very close call with serious injuries. It was not typical for the region and the danger went largely under appreciated even by many courses and instructors who have little experience in varied snowpacks including continental climates. In the spring there were also a few atypical climax spring slides resulting from rains and thawing along with this weak base.

Hopefully this provides a little background at a time when we need to start thinking about the development of the snowpack. Questions, observations, and differing points of view are always welcome. The best place for this is our forums, and we will try to see that anything posted there receives a response. ( http://www.avalanche-center.org/phpBB2/ )

Avalanche Store

We are offering a 10% discount until the next newsletter if you use the coupon code "update3" without the quotes. This is entered at the end just as you check out. When you are reviewing your cart there is a place to enter the code and when you update the cart the discount will be applied. Then continue with checkout. (If you return to shopping it may or may not remember - if not just enter it again when you are really ready to check out.)

If you are logged in as a member then there will not be any place for a coupon code. But you will automatically be getting a 25% discount instead, through the 8th.

On the main store page there are links to our auction and also to a listing of anything we may have on ebay at the moment. Right now we have one PIEPS DSP in each auction. On ebay they tend to get bid up quite a bit but they are still often a very good deal. On our own auction you are likely to pay between $325 and $350. There is only one beacon in each auction.

Please purchase your avalanche safety related equipment through us and encourage your friends to as well - we match anyone else's price and the proceeds come back to you in the form of public information and education services.

Other Website News

In addition to updating all the financial information through last season the site statistics were also archived and restarted for the current season. This isn't terribly interesting to most people, probably even less so than finances, but it is publicly accessible at http://www.avalanche-center.org/stats/index.php  Statistics on website use going back to 1995 can be found there. Sections like the finances and stats are actually not any more interesting to maintain than they are for most people to read, but as a major nonprofit website with a longer history than almost anything on the web today it's important to have this available.


  • Contribute and join: http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/contribute/
  • Buy your equipment here: http://www.avalanche-center.org/store/
  • Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/avalanche.center
  • Bookmark our pages on sites like Mixx, Digg, Del-icio-us and others
  • Use Goodsearch and Goodshop when you search the web or buy online

Jim Frankenfield
Executive Director

Avalanche Center Info