MSAC functions as a partnership between the US Forest Service and a nonprofit organization known as the Friends of the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center. Created in 2002, the FMSAC focuses on fundraising to support the financial needs of the program.

The Mount Shasta Avalanche Center has been busy preparing for its 22nd season. MSAC serves to educate and train backcountry users in safe practices and rescue techniques that are important when traveling in avalanche terrain. Forecasters and observers travel in the field regularly to gather weather and snowpack information. Their data is the basis for advisories that report current conditions and levels of avalanche danger. These advisories, which cover the Mt. Shasta, Mt. Eddy, and Castle Lake backcountry, are posted daily to www.shastaavalanche.org from December to April.

“We are excited about some new projects designed to improve backcountry safety and our forecasting ability,” said Ryan Sorenson a forecaster for MSAC in a press release from the organization. “Pre-season work includes website improvements and upgrades, the installation of new informational signs, trailhead maintenance and winterization, and gearing up for a complete weather station overhaul..”

Last month the MSAC installed an “Are You Beeping?” Beacon Check Station at the base of Gray Butte. Gray Butte is a popular side-country ski destination accessible from the Mount Shasta Ski Park. The sign was installed where skiers typically prepare to climb Gray Butte, which hosts several avalanche-prone areas that are popular for skiing.

The Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Friends of the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center, have been awarded a State of California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation grant for the 2020 winter season. This funding will help the MSAC’s Education Program deliver classroom and field-based snowmobile avalanche education classes. In addition, funds will pay for a much-needed upgrade to all of the weather stations throughout the MSAC forecast region, according to the release.

“Weather stations provide critical data needed to deliver accurate forecasts to backcountry users, but obsolete components are beginning to limit our ability to maintain and repair them,” said Aaron Beverly, a forecaster and observer for MSAC. “If we are going to continue to provide quality forecasts in the long term, it is important to upgrade these components now.”

MSAC functions as a partnership between the US Forest Service and a nonprofit organization known as the Friends of the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center. Created in 2002, the FMSAC focuses on fundraising to support the financial needs of the program.

“The Friends group is essential to MSAC’s operation,” says Justi Hansen, FMSAC’s Executive Director. “We plan to continue to host our annual fundraising events including the ever popular Snow Ball and Ascension Race. Check our event schedule for details.”

Outdoor winter recreation is rapidly gaining popularity, and more people are venturing into avalanche terrain than ever before. Over the last 10 winters an average of 27 people died in avalanches each winter in the United States, according to the release. If you plan to recreate in snow covered mountains this winter season, it is crucial to understand the risks, especially when it comes to avalanches. Always carry avalanche rescue equipment (beacon, shovel, probe), and know how to use it. Attend an avalanche awareness talk this season, or better yet, take a formal avalanche training course. MSAC holds several free trainings throughout the winter season. All winter recreation enthusiasts are encouraged to attend.

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, follow them on Facebook @shastaavalanche or call (530) 926-9614.

MSAC event schedule

North State Giving Tuesday party

Dec. 3, 6 a.m. 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 nonprofit organizations with the opportunity to gain exposure, start relationships with new donors, and raise as much money as possible within a 14-hour period. Donations will help all operations of the MSAC.

You can donate to MSAC at www.northstategives.org/FriendsOfTheMountShastaAvalancheCenter and sponsorship dollars will be matched.

FMSAC is cohosting the party with the Mount Shasta Nordic Center to celebrate Giving Tuesday and kickoff the winter season. We will serve beer, wine, snacks, and help you make an online donation with computers and tablets available at the party.

Free avalanche awareness presentation and companion rescue clinic

Dec. 6 and 7, Jan. 3 and 4, Feb. 7 and 8, March 6 and 7

Friday: 7-8:30 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m.-noon

Shasta Mountain Guides Office, 230 North Mount Shasta Blvd., Mount Shasta

On the first Friday of each month, prepare to “Know Before You Go” into the backcountry during the winter. The presentation includes how to recognize the clues of avalanche danger along with some basics on safe winter travel.

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

Movie night

Dec. 7th, 6-9 p.m.

Mt. Shasta Community Building, 629 Alder St., Mount Shasta

Support FMSAC while enjoying “Saipal” a film and presentation by local climbing ranger and professional skier, Forrest Coots.

Coots and Chad Sayer lead a team to remote Western Nepal in search of a first ascent of Mt. Saipal (7,031 meters). “Saipal” explores the reasons each man took on the challenge and the mind games that ensue. When tragedy strikes, their motives are called into question. Tickets are $15 at the door. Kids under 10 get in free.

Free snowmobile-specific avalanche seminar and rescue workshop

Jan. 11, 9 a.m.-noon

U.S. Forest Service Conference Room, Mount Shasta Ranger Station, 204 West Alma St., Mount Shasta

Spend the day with MSAC professionals learning about avalanche and rescue information specifically catered toward snowmobilers.

Sixth annual Shasta Ascension Backcountry Ski Race

Jan. 18, 7 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Mt. Shasta Ski Park

A festive backcountry ski race involving climbing up and skiing down. The race is open to randonèe, telemark skiers, and snowboarders. Costumes are highly encouraged. Prizes will be awarded for best costumes, fastest time in each age category, and overall fastest time. Free backcountry demos hosted by the Fifth Season. Proceeds benefit FMSAC.

Registration is 7-9:30 a.m.; race begins at 10 a.m.

17th Annual Snow Ball

Jan. 18, 5:30 p.m.

Mount Shasta City Park, 1315 Nixon Rd., Mount Shasta

A romping good time and a community tradition, celebrate 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 5:30-7:30 p.m.; live music and raffle from 7:45 p.m. to closing.

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