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Ale_Capone 11-27-2012 11:41 AM

Friends of the PNW free BC training?
This is coming on the heels of last years terrible avi season at stevens passs, and the mini explosion of new BC riders. I've gotten a several messages recently from guys who are understandably excited to get out this year. I'll end up setting up something impromptu, but i'd like to maybe organise something and get others involved.

This may be more aimed at Killclimbz, mainly because I highly admire Gary and the things he does to promote safe splitboarding out of the goodness of his heart, but I am interested in trying to set up something like FOBP. A non profit orginization aimed at getting people trained and safely touring in the stevens pass and the other PNW areas for free. figured I'd ask publicly incase someone else was thinking of simular.

at this point there are a few low cost and free options through the mountaineers, and other group orginazations, but you have to join said group... or commit time with SAR.

I see the question of reliable training pop up all the time. Money always seems to come into question. economics should not be in issue. I love snow. winter, snowboarding, splitboarding, and just plain digging and playing in the snow.I want to continue to share that with out profiting finacially. The profit is spiritual.

I'm mostly interested in knowing about the structuring and the business end. I've got the resources as far as trained and over-qualified friends... who would be interested in leanding a hand.

GAry? Anybody? what do ye think?

DrnknZag 11-27-2012 12:44 PM

I'm already signed up for a Level 1 class through Northwest Mountain School in early Jan, but I'd be down for any additional learning opportunities. You can never have enough training, right?

Not sure if it's possible, but what I'd like to see from this is more in the field observations and an actual tour. With the Level 1 class, we really only have one full day out in the backcountry.

killclimbz 11-27-2012 12:47 PM

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Man, we will help you in any way we can. FOBP is a grassroots movement. We did apply for and get a 501C3 status. Making donations to FOBP tax deductible. As far as tax filings and such go, I'll have to ask the guys who are dealing with that portion.

The biggest expenses are Trademarking/Copywrite of your name, then locations costs for classroom sessions. A lot are free, but some have minimal costs. I believe the Oriental theater costs us $100 or $150 for the time we use for the classroom. Swag and such cost money. The biggest expense so far has been the continuing education of our instructors. Everyone has a level I and almost everyone has a done a Level II. I believe the AAIRE guidelines are that people that have done a Level II course are qualified to teach basic avalanche awareness. This is great for on snow. For your class room instructor going a little beyond that is a good idea. There is an educator course for those who are interested in teaching basic avalanche awareness. I believe it's through the American Avalanche Association.

This leads to the other big commitment. Your time. We have a tough time balancing this every year. Last season I think we bit off way more than we should of. The crappy season around here didn't help either. It left several of us drained. So as far as your class room sessions go, I recommend start small. We are sticking to our guns on having around 10 classes a season. I think we are up to twelve for the year, but that is pretty much it for the classroom sessions. The on snow portion is just one weekend. That is it. People ask for more, but you just have to say sorry. This is what we offer, it's free, and it is up to you to take advantage of it. The idea is to teach some basic avalanche skills, let people see what it is all about, and encourage them to take a Level I if it is something they really want to get into.

Fundraising is of course key. Hooking up with some ski movie tours is great. I am pretty sure the Powderwhore guys would be all over this. They are a huge help to us and the fundraising we get from their shows is more than half of our budget for the season. They are also great about getting swag to give away. If you can get two or three other sponsors to throw in some nice items, you can have a great raffle.

I would say you probably want a core group of people around 10 strong to start this off. If you follow the FOBP model, don't be surprised that you'll be desperate for on snow instructors come that weekend. I got into it during the second or third year of FOBP's existence and the first group I took out was over 10.

The other thing to be wary of is Forest Service or other land owner (BLM, Park Service) regulations for you outdoor portion. Around here they are very watchful about people operating without a permit. We can't take any money and we are limited to 75 people a day for the on snow. We have now cycled enough people through that we generally don't hit the limits on this. The first five years though, we were right there. Advertising was another big no at the pass. We got in some trouble over having banners and such. Shame on us.

I am pretty sure I can get you outlines of what we cover for on snow and maybe a presentation for the classroom. Of course you would have to tailor it for the PNW Maritime snow pack versus our continental snow pack. Though I am starting to think that telling people to bring their mountain bikes instead of their avy gear is becoming the norm for this season out here yet again.

I do think this is an awesome idea. Seattle is probably our main obvious target area and as far North as Bellingham. It all depends on how much you want to travel. Fundraising and class room is what eats up most of our time. Then of course there is the commitment of the on snow weekend. Pulling it off is very rewarding and every season I feel pretty good about what we are doing after the on snow is done. The fundraising is a great excuse to throw a party and really brings the BC community together. It is very tight out here in a large part due to our organization.

Ale_Capone 11-27-2012 01:21 PM

Thanks a lot. Some really good info and what i was looking for there.

The logistics and permitting are pretty big issues.

especially the permit.. FS doesn't believe in loop holes, eh?

In all honesty, I'd be just as happy to donate my time to an exsiting orginaztion. one just doesn't exist here at the time. I sent out a few emails to people who are trying to give back, to see if maybe we can get some combined effort results. becasue I agree, You need a large group and many minds to succesfully distribute the knowledge. my first avi 1 class had 10 classroom instructors. and 2 fields intructors for each 4.. 2 to 1 ratio in the field.

Ale_Capone 11-27-2012 01:47 PM


Originally Posted by DrnknZag (Post 544101)
I'm already signed up for a Level 1 class through Northwest Mountain School in early Jan, but I'd be down for any additional learning opportunities. You can never have enough training, right?

Not sure if it's possible, but what I'd like to see from this is more in the field observations and an actual tour. With the Level 1 class, we really only have one full day out in the backcountry.

Is that with John and Olivia? I've heard good things about them.

and no, you can never have enough training...

I think it's a civic duty to give back. much of the kowledge I got, I got from guys I have toured after I took my avi 1. guys with avi minds like killclimbz.

As it is now, I often do tours around heather ridge more like you decribed. kinda just showing other riders around and area I know pretty well, and some of teh stuff to look out for.. some new guys, some are vetran visitors.

killclimbz 11-27-2012 04:35 PM

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Keep in mind we are doing this with no permits. You don't have to have one, but you have to operate within the rules. One of them is numbers. Hence the 75 people a day. Pretty sure that is standard Forest Service rules. If you have over that number then special use permitting kicks in. The other thing is you can't charge for your services. Donations are fine, but the class itself has to be free. Otherwise you are stepping on the toes of other guide services who actually have paid for the right to operate avy classes on Forest Service land for profit. Since you are talking a not for profit operation, that shouldn't be a problem. Hence why we do all of our fundraising at events or online such as the splitboard raffle currently going on. These are just things you need to be aware of. We took our lumps over quite a few of these for no other reason than we just didn't know. To do what you are talking about should be perfectly within the boundaries as long as you watch your numbers and how you stage the area. I do recommend that you talk with the ranger who supervisor where you are planning on operating. Getting a good relationship with them goes a long way as to what you can and can not do.

killclimbz 11-28-2012 09:02 AM

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It is a little annoying. On the flip side if they didn't do it, you'd have all sorts of commercial operations out there crowding up your areas, taking parking, and the like to make a buck. Squeezing the recreationalist out due to crowds. It's a tough one to manage for sure, and there are repercussions, such as your small operation.

The weekend that we run our on snow definitely has an effect for other people who are out there to do their own thing. If week after week I showed up to that, I'd be pissed and would be emailing the Forest Service to do something about it. Just to play devil's advocate here.

DrnknZag 11-28-2012 09:55 AM

Is this something that we could involve NWAC and maybe even Stevens Pass as a sponsor to help out with this?

killclimbz 11-28-2012 10:19 AM

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I would imagine that NWAC has little or no budget to be a sponsor. We work with the CAIC as much as possible. They are in more of an advisory role. Ethan Greene has been a big help in helping us format our program, among others. So yes they should be involved. Avalanche Forecasting runs on a shoestring budget everywhere.

Stevens Pass would be a great sponsor. Getting venue time, lift ticket donations, that sort of thing has a lot of value. Great for fundraising to support your organization.

Ale_Capone 12-07-2012 10:42 AM

Thanks again..

I've been messaging back and forth with some people form differnat groups..

Trying to figure out a way to orchestrate this through an exsiting org..

friends at Friends of NWAC, and cascade bc ski patrol think this could be a good partnership option.

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