Although winter snows have not arrived in earnest on the slopes of Mt. Shasta, the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center has been preparing for its 21st season. Weather station maintenance, event planning, and website updates are all tasks to be conducted before the onset of winter and increased avalanche concerns.

“The pre-season is a great time to catch up on work needed to deliver a great product to backcountry users in the wintertime,” says Aaron Beverly, a forecaster and field observer for MSAC. “We are working to make critical website upgrades and to deliver better content and an improved user experience for site visitors. We want to be ready when the snow flies.”

MSAC serves to educate and train backcountry users in safe practices and rescue techniques important when traveling in avalanche terrain. Forecasters and field observers travel in the field regularly to gather weather and snowpack information needed to issue avalanche advisories that report current conditions and levels of avalanche danger. Advisories, which cover the Mount Shasta, Mount Eddy, and Castle Lake backcountry, are posted daily to shastaavalanche.org from December through April.

“Our avalanche advisory is a great one-stop shop for climbers, sliders, and riders planning their day in the backcountry,” notes Nick Meyers, MSAC’s Lead Forecaster and Climbing Ranger. “Identifying levels of avalanche danger and specific areas of concern can help travelers make better decisions in avoiding being caught in an avalanche.”

Avalanches kill nearly 30 people each year in the US so avoidance is the safest strategy. But if venturing into avalanche terrain, it is important to plan for the worst. If your companions are buried, then having the tools and knowledge to use them to perform a rescue is critical. These tools include an avalanche transceiver, shovel, and probe.

MSAC holds several free trainings (see schedule below) throughout the winter season to teach students in their proper use. Combine this with one of their avalanche awareness classes and gain a solid introduction to avalanche basics.

MSAC functions as a partnership between the US Forest Service and a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization known as Friends of the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center (FMSAC). FMSAC focuses on fundraising to support the financial needs of the program.

FMSAC Executive Director Justi Hansen is excited for the coming season.

“With an El Nino effect predicted this season, we are hopeful for a winter with plentiful snow,” Hansen said. “We have scheduled all of our usual fun educational and fundraising events including the Snow Ball and Ascension Race. These are popular and festive community celebrations that grow each year. Come join in the fun and support a great community organization.”

For more information about the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center and the Friends of the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center, visit www.shastaavalanche.org, email shastaavalanche@gmail.com, or call 530-926-9614.

Mount Shasta Avalanche Center Event Schedule

North State Giving Tuesday Party

• Nov. 27 from 4 to 8 p.m., Shasta Mountain Guides Office, 230 North Mount Shasta Blvd., Mount Shasta.

Giving Tuesday is an online networking and fundraising event that provides non-profit organizations with the opportunity to gain exposure, start relationships with new donors, and raise as much money as possible within a 14-hour period.

By donating at the North State Giving Tuesday website at www.northstategives.org, your sponsorship dollars will be matched, or you can donate at the party, where beer, wine, food and good company will be provided.

FMSAC’s goal is $5,000.

Free Avalanche Awareness Presentation and Companion Rescue Clinic

• Dec. 7-8, Jan. 4-5, Feb. 1-2, March 1-2, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., 9 a.m. to noon, Shasta Mountain Guides Office, 230 North Mount Shasta Blvd., Mount Shasta.

On the first Friday of each month, Learn what to Know Before You Go into the backcountry during the winter including how to recognize the clues to avalanche danger along with some basics on safe winter travel.

Follow up the next day with hands-on training with rescue tools needed to effectively carry out a companion rescue.

Movie Night

• Dec. 8 from 6 to 9 p.m., Mount Shasta Sisson Museum, 1 North Old Stage Road, Mount Shasta.

You can support FMSAC while enjoying three of Endlessflow Film’s (endlessflowfilms.com) new short movies:

“Paige” – Follows the best female big wave surfer on the planet.

“Finding the Line” – A ski movie about the Segal sisters who confront their fears in the mountains of Alaska.

“World's Highest Marathon” – A story about Christopher Mohn, a Lyme disease survivor who is running the world’s highest marathon, which starts at Everest Basecamp.

The films’ director Bjarne Salen presents.

Slideshow Presentation

• Jan. 5 from 6 to 9 p.m., Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum, 1 North Old Stage Road, Mount Shasta.

Near misses, close calls and other acts of stupidity. Tales from the mountains of Alaska by heli-ski guide Lel Tone.

Free Snowmobile Specific Avalanche Seminar and Rescue Workshop

• Jan. 12 at 9 a.m., US Forest Service Conference Room, Mount Shasta Ranger Station, 204 West Alma Street, Mount Shasta.

A day with MSAC professionals learning about avalanche and rescue information specifically catered toward the snowmobiler’s mind.

5th Annual Shasta Ascension Backcountry Ski Race

• Jan. 19 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Location to be determined.

A festive backcountry ski race involving climbing up and skiiing down. Great prizes for best times and best costumes. Proceeds benefit FMSAC.

Registration, 7 to 9:30 a.m.; race begins at 10 a.m.

17th Annual Snow Ball

• Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m., Mount Shasta City Park, 1315 Nixon Road, Mount Shasta.

A good time and a community tradition, celebrating the backcountry recreation season with live music, food, drinks, auction and raffle. This is FMSAC's biggest fundraising event.

Social/cocktail hour and silent auction from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; live music and raffle from 7:45 p.m. to closing.

Tickets will be available at The Fifth Season, Shasta Base Camp, and at the door for $25. Kids under 10 get in free. Tickets often sell out, so get your tickets early.