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Oregon Mountaineering Association

Oregon Mountaineering Association
oma@i-world.net

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Climbers Avalanche Class

HOT - Climbers Avalanche Awareness Course - Online - 50% discount

We no longer offer classes directly through the OMA, but we have arranged for a discount of 50% on the new Climbers Avalanche Course through the Avalanche Institute on Avalanche-Center.org . This is taught online. There may be an occasional optional field session. Feedback on this new online approach has been overwhelmingly positive.

Unlike past classes that were run directly through the OMA this arrangement does not include OMA membership. You need to be an OMA member to get the discount. A years membership in Avalanche-Center.org is included in the course fee since the online facility is hosted there. (So for $75 you get the full course, OMA membership, and Avalanche Center membership. A value of $170.)

The Climbers Avalanche Course is designed to serve people mountaineering in spring. The full value of $100 can be applied towards the complete Level 1 if you wish to begin that in the fall. (Time limits and limitations on combining discounts may apply.) Full Level 1 classes generally include a lot of winter factors that are not important in spring and only serve to confuse the issues for many people. On the other hand spring conditions are often poorly covered in Level 1 classes oriented towards winter skiing and rarely taught any later than early March by most providers. The decision making, team management, and planning factors are much different for mountaineering as well and this is reflected in the climbers course.


Some Background and History
The OMA, AlpenPro, and the Avalanche Institute course -

The OMA has a long history in the development of the AlpenPro avalanche education program, which is now the Avalanche Institute over at Avalanche-Center.org. Prior to 1999 we offered regularly scheduled weekend classes a few times a season. These were very popular and very effective - nobody who has ever taken such a class has shown up in any avalanche incident reports in the extensive archive on avalanche-center.org. (This has actually been true of all AlpenPro students over all time.) It turns out that many people involved in accidents had training, but so far none received it through an AlpenPro based course.

Our classes were small and often had almost as many co-instructors and they did students. The instructors, under professional oversight, rotated the topics they covered and they contributed to the workbook later used in AlpenPro courses. The students tended to be climbing oriented, young, and enthusiastic. They were able to remain engaged in course work well into the evening even after being in the field part of the day. This led to the intensive weekend schedule that was used in most AlpenPro courses until the current online course was developed. Since the 2007-2008 season online courses have been offered through the Avalanche Institute, with AlpenPro continuing to offer field days and oversight. The involvement of the OMA in this new program has been limited to offering discounts to members.

The OMA courses were terminated in 1999 when a US Forest Service ranger set up his own business on Mt Hood. (When his for-profit business permit was issued every other program was run off the mountain. Prior to the establishment of this we had openly run courses with no problems for years. Interestingly enough the only other program in OR, opening since then, is also operated by a former USFS employee.) We have offered a few classes since that time, but they have been quietly done for members and not widely promoted.

During the 2007-2008 season the new online approach was developed. In order to run a full "beta" version it was offered through only a few select groups at a greatly reduced price. Seven OMA members enrolled, and field sessions were run for groups of 1 to 4 students. Thus much of the feedback and testing leading to the current program was provided by OMA members. (A group from the MIT Outing Club also tested the program as an addition to their weekend course in NH. The same low price was offered to student groups at OSU and OIT but no students enrolled. The OIT groups were not all that well organized or motivated, and the now defunct OSU group actually had a member or two complain about the offer - go figure!) In 2008-2009 more students tested the program, including one highly experienced climber/skier from Europe who traveled to Oregon for the course. A former (currently inactive) OMA member who took a class a long time ago has been testing the challenge system and reviewing the modules.

It is because of this long history of involvement in the course development that the OMA is able to offer a discount to members on an individual basis. We hope this will be more useful to serious students than the previous weekend formats, which usually suffered from a lack of enrollment. After a steady stream of emails asking when we were offering a course we would set a date, only to find most of these people did not register anyway. Which left the serious students without a class. The new online approach should not suffer from this problem, and members who are serious can register at a discount and be certain the course will be available.

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