OMA TripsWe are not actively planning many classes or climbs until future notice. We hope to be able to offer some things again, perhaps including some new ones, at some point in the future. (Update: We do offer a50% discount on a Level 1 avalanche class.)
We have had two difficulties in our planning work for some time now.
The first is that we are a rather small group and always had under a half-dozen potential leaders or instructors to draw on, often less at any given time. These leaders became increasingly busy with other engagements, ranging from private avalanche consulting work to mountain rescue work to extended oceanographic cruises. They are also somewhat dispersed, as is our membership.
The second problem was that we received a steady stream of serious inquiries only to find that when we planned something based on those inquiries the actual enrollment barely justified the effort. We often ended up running a class or climb with very few participants, certainly less than a commercial operator would be quick to cancel over. (The positive side of this has been great experiences for both participants and leaders.)
On top of the first two problems the USFS, at the request of and on behalf of Glenn Kessler aka Mountainsavvy) repeatedly targeted us as a commercial operation and invested a great deal of time and money in halting our programs. They made a first unsuccessful effort in 1999. After questions were raised with the agency at a national level, concerning ethics implications, they revived the issue, at a much greater public expense. They actually went as far as infiltrating our small club with a Federal Agent, and they subpoenaed numerous bank records, including some which are entirely unrelated to the OMA. Despite this large investment of public funds nothing has ever come of any of it. In fact it appears that the whole issue finally lost all credibility with the office of the US Attorney, which has better things to do. Unfortunately one never knows what is going on behind the scenes when it comes to government in general and the USFS in particular.
It's doubtful that the Forest Service issue would go anywhere now were we to resume occassional classes in a cautious format. Mr Kessler has lost any remnants of credibility he may still have had by writing of a bad check to the nonprofit CSAC Avalanche Center, and it seems his friend and informant Doug Ironside also has a history of stealing checks from fellow climbers and trying to pass them at local climbing shops. The whole issue was never worthy of federal court time, and with key witnesses of this quality it's even less so. Or so the average citizen and taxpayer would think.
It is clear that there are ulterior motives behind all of this, and these motives have not diminished. This makes it very difficult to pursue the offering of courses or climbs again. We are not commercial and everyone involved has other things to do. (According to the governments own extensive review of our bank account our entire cash flow for the year in question, 2001, was about $2500. For members shirts, web resources, equipment, and lodging for some classes. A very commercial size budget indeed!)
As a small organization reliant on volunteer time we hope that you can appreciate our need to have discontinued official classes and climbs. All other member benefits and services have been maintained and periodically improved or expanded. Unofficial trips arranged directly between members are still encouraged.
Since our classes and climbs were popular and were rewarding to both participants and leaders we hope to be able to offer some things again in the future. In some cases we may be able to use lands which are more publicly available than those owned by the Forest Service. To offer classes again we would need to do enough promotion to get enough serious participants, and this remains problematic with the Forest Service watching over us, even if their perpetrators have lost all credibility.
The main Classes and Climbs page has links to each of the events which we have held in the past. On those pages we will be posting alternatives which people can consider as well as our current thoughts on the possibility of reviving that particular class or climb.