Avalanche Center Home Update - December 22, 2015

An Update from the Avalanche Center

December 22, 2015
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Avalanche-Center.org is still here !

This is a short update to get the year started. It highlights some recent work and the status of the center. The most noteworthy work recently has been to update the Incidents archives. Quite a bit of other work has to be done each year that is less visible and most of that is completed as well.

So, as the 2015-16 avalanche season kicks off we would like to remind you that the CSAC Avalanche Center (Avalanche-Center.org) does still exist and is being maintained and updated, although not to the extent it was in the past. This is due to limited resources, both time and money.

Our budget for last season is complete but has not yet been posted on the website. Due to minimizing costs dramatically and the help of a small number of very generous donors we are able to get started for this season. We do still have expenses to cover so memberships and donations are important. Our server has a monthly fee as well as other computing and administrative costs. (Such as filings with the state, etc.)

In addition to donations to help pay the expenses behind the project we also need some help with some things. The store is more or less dormant at the moment and could be managed by somebody new, perhaps on a revenue sharing basis. The education program needs to be offered through local partners as we move forward with this. And we may have a space at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake, which will require some help to keep staffed.

We did add a new member to the Board of Directors a few months ago. Joe Poulton is an EMT or Paramedic member of the AMR Reach and Treat team that covers Mt Hood and environs. He took the weekend avalanche course which our online program grew out of, a long time ago, and has been an advocate of the online program. He currently lives in southern Washington after spending some years in the continental snowpack of Colorado.

Recent Work

Over the past few months a lot of background work has been done. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work involved in a major website with 20 years of history to it.

Sections need to be scanned for bad links, which also helps find pages with missing titles, pages not linked to (orphaned), and a few other things. Log files need to be archived, and at the end of an operating year these need to be finally processed for website traffic stats. And those need to be finalized and archived. And the monthly budget summaries need to be caught up. These things are all complete now.

Last years incident collection is now complete for the US. For this season we now have 4 reports, all with fatalities which total 5. There is more updating to do once this email goes out. Two of the recent reports are recreational in the US, one was a working guide in Slovakia, and the fourth was a recent avalanche destroying part of a village in Svalbard, Norway.

All of our report files, available to members, contain whatever material we can scrape from the web. While anyone could go find most of it the time and number of sources required are significant. A typical file has some combination of photos from different sources, advisories in effect at the time, and multiple news media articles and/or an official report. We also archive all of this on our server so that after 10-20 years everything is not reduced to a collection of bad links. (Yes, our archive does go back over 20 years now!)

We have also continued to develop our Avalanche Institute program, and have a small number of students taking our courses. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive but it needs greater exposure. We hope to set up a network of supporters and partners to help promote and manage it locally in their areas.

Ongoing Work

So what is next?

First, incidents. There are new ones to post now, and additional information on the most recent ones. There are two cases of missing skiers in the US, and it is unknown if they are avalanche victims or not. One was a while ago in Hatcher Pass, Alaska. It seems to be considered likely that the solo skier was in an avalanche but conditions precluded a thorough search. At this moment there is another case of a missing skier in Washington, again with nothing known yet. There are also non-US incidents to be posted, and non-fatal ones. Including one at Mammoth Mountain in a closed area of the resort.

The Avalanche Institute courses will be covered more in a future update but this is a priority going forward.

We also may have a table at the Outdoor Retailer show right after New Years. It needs to be staffed, and that needs to be sorted out yet. Although we have not received any confirmation of our space yet. With the director living abroad in Tbilisi this will be much more of a challenge than past years.


There is a lot to do, as always. I will have a long break from my current "real" or "day" job (with a regular check) soon. (Teaching at a private high school in Georgia, where Christmas is celebrated in January on the orthodox date.) As soon as this week is over I hope to get to work on the avalanche center during our break.

While I will get back to my continuing efforts to keep the basics running and the infrastructure in place some help will be welcome. And some financial contributions to pay the costs. Please remember us during the holiday giving season. And for the end of year tax season keep in mind that we are a 501c3 tax-deductible non-profit.

Hopefully there will be a new update with more specifics on website work and courses before the New Year. After the holiday break begins, and after the email bounces and list synchronization from this mail is done.

Happy Holidays and a Merry Solstice to all of our supporters, and thanks for making this possible for over 20 years.

Jim Frankenfield
Executive Director

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