Missoula Avalanche | Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts Image

Dear Friends,

We at Missoula Avalanche recognize the growing uncertainty that you are facing right now and share your concern. Please know that we are committed to helping you stay safe and wish everyone the best during these challenging times.

As a public safety organization, our top priority is keeping our staff, volunteers, and the backcountry community safe. Due to the nationwide spread of COVID-19, we have suspended all educational programs and events through April. This includes Know Before You Go programs, Snowpack Talks, and event fundraisers. We will continue to monitor the situation and follow all recommendations from our Board of Directors, CDC, and state and local authorities.

We acknowledge that the mountains are a source of refuge and joy for the community, especially during these uncertain times. The West Central Montana Avalanche Center (WCMAC) remains dedicated to delivering the information you need for heading into the mountains and returning home safely. The WCMAC intends to continue its seasonal operations as scheduled before shifting to snowpack updates in April. 

The WCMAC’s ability to connect communities to high-quality avalanche information is the sum of its parts. As local guide services suspend operations and ski area closures take effect, your public observations are doing more than ever before. To help ensure this essential information is available to everyone, we encourage you to fill out the Missoulaavalanche.org observation form. Your ongoing observation information benefits WCMAC forecasters and the public at large. You can help us, help you by continuing to submit your backcountry observations this year. As you get out, please remember the following.

  1. COVID-19 is creating unprecedented challenges for our healthcare system. Please remember that social distancing guidelines apply to outdoor travel. We ask that you follow the CDC recommendations, and if you do go out to recreate, please adhere to the necessary precautions. It is advisable to avoid carpooling with people who live outside of your household, keep your groups small, and avoid social gatherings at the parking lot. 
  2. Ski areas have closed for the season. During this time, ski areas are unmitigated avalanche terrain without staff to provide professional help if you are caught or injured. Ski areas have the legal right to close terrain to the public, both on leased Forest Service and private land, and many do so. Please understand and respect the uphill travel policies of each area you plan to visit. 
  3. If you choose to head out, we encourage you to take all precautions necessary to safeguard the health and safety of your group and others. It is crucial to remain aware of avalanche conditions and possess the rescue equipment and on snow skill sets needed for safe backcountry travel. Please remember to read the advisory, weather summary, and reassess snowpack conditions throughout your day. 

As a community-powered organization, you provide us with the resources for funding avalanche forecasting and educational program operations. We want to express our ongoing thanks to the individuals, businesses, and agencies who invest in our work. We are grateful to have your continued support and the ability to make a collective impact on avalanche safety. 

Taking the necessary precautions has paused our event fundraiser plans for this spring. We, like many in the community, are grappling with how to address diminishing revenue. The postponing of events and fundraisers impact avalanche center operations this year and our ability to fund programs next season. If you utilize these services throughout the season or were planning on supporting us through an event, we hope that you will still consider a donation online if you can do so. 

Your continued support makes avalanche forecasting, awareness, and education throughout west-central Montana possible. Thank you for being part of the Missoula Avalanche team and helping us ensure that everyone who ventures into the backcountry has the tools they need to make good decisions and come home safely.

 

Sincerely,

Patrick Black

Executive Director
West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation
[email protected]Missoulaavalanche.org
PO Box 72, Missoula, Montana, 59806