Gear Plan

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Varsity Outdoor Club Gear Room Revitalization Plan

by
Andrew Pare, James Painter, Piotr Forysinski, Scott Webster, Dan Eagen, Sandra Nicol

March 25, 2007

Introduction

It has become clear this year that the gear room is in rough shape. A lot of gear has been breaking due to age and wear, and quite a bit of gear has been stolen by borrowers in the past few years (although this year had very little theft). Revitalizing the gear room is too expensive to do all at once, but with a higher budget ($3000 rather than $2000) and some time, the gear room can be restocked with safe ropes, matching ski-skin sets with sturdy bindings, avalanche safety equipment, and even mountaineering equipment. In order to help answer the annual question of what to spend money on we have prepared this plan. It is not set in stone but is meant to be a guideline for future executives. It could also be a useful framework for prioritizing gear purchases in the future. Note that this plan can and should be amended as circumstances change. The other annual question that plagues the quartermasters is how to run the gear room. What fees should be charged? How should late borrowers be handled? Using the member responses to a survey done this year, and considering the added responsibilities that fees put on quartermasters, we have put forward a fee plan that maintains the spirit of the gear room, but should reduce gear truancy when used in combination with the new Gear Database.

Gear Database

Piotr Forysinski is going to make a data base for the gear and the gear borrowers. The database should be completed by the end of the summer. The database will include an entry for each item of gear, with its deposit amount. All gear that can be labeled will be labeled, other items, such as ropes and skins, will be described accurately enough to be unique. The database will be able to keep track of avalanche beacon fees for record keeping purposes (see below for details). The database will be able to send out automatic reminder and late notification emails. The database will be able to keep track of the borrower blacklist. Borrowers will have to sign a form at the beginning of the year, the first time that they borrow gear, stating that they understand that if the quartermasters feel that they damaged the gear through negligence or irresponsibility then they will be responsible for paying for the gear. They will forfeit their deposit and be responsible for repaying the remainder of the repair/replacement cost.

Fees

Deposits on old gear will remain the same next year. Deposits on new gear, including the probes and shovels purchased this year, will be higher. Gear will be loaned with the caveat that one person can only borrow enough gear for his/herself for the trip they plan to go on. Deposits for new gear will be decided for each new item, with a significant increase from earlier rates. The deposit for each item will be part of its entry in the new gear database. Gear is due by the Wednesday following the weekend, unless otherwise agreed with the quartermasters, to a maximum of two weekends. Christmas is at the quartermasters' discretion. Borrowers returning gear late will be put on a blacklist, and forbidden from future gear loan. Borrowers can be removed from the blacklist by the quartermasters in return for a workhike, at the quartermaster's discretion. A small safe will be purchased, or welded, to hold fees. A list of the items borrowed and the borrower's name will be clipped to the deposit, in addition to the computerized loan system. No fees will be charged for gear, as Free gear is one of the largest benefits to joining the club. Gear should remain free on principle. The exception will continue to be avalanche beacons. Because beacons are so expensive and so difficult to acquire used, a $2 fee will be charged per use day with a late fee of $2/day. Beacons will be due on Monday, so the late fee begins on Tuesday. No other late fees will be charged, as implementing a late fee is too problematic for the quartermasters. Also, the a borrower's motivation to return late gear decreases as their late fee debt increases.

Categories

We prioritized gear according to the following categories. We are willing to spend more money on higher priority items, such as Purchase Full Price items. However, if a PFP item of good quality becomes available used then it should of course be purchased.

  1. Purchase Full Price: The club needs to acquire gear in this category quickly, so the club is willing to purchase it for up to full price. A time line for purchasing these items is described in the Strategy outlined below.
  2. Highest Priority Used: Members of the executive who have shown that they have a good understanding of gear quality and pricing will purchase these items on sight, without consulting the executive, in order to take advantage of any good deals before the opportunity is missed. These items are the top priority for the gearswaps, and should be watched for on online gear swap lists and at used gear stores such as Cheapskates.
  3. Med Priority Used: The club needs more of these items, but the quartermasters have observed that they do not often run out of these items. These items should be purchased at the gearswaps after higher priority items, and opportunities to purchase them at a good price should be discussed with the executive.
  4. Do Not Buy: The gear room is well stocked with these items, so money should be spent on higher priority items.


Plan breakdown by equipment

Avalanche equipment


The membership survey indicated that safety equipment is a high priority for members. The club should have an equal number of each type of avalanche gear (transceivers, probes, shovels). Note that the number in parentheses following an item is how many of that item we currently have.

  • beacons (6): highest priority used
  • shovels (9): do not buy
  • probes (5): full price, one per year OR purchase 4 from G3 under 'pro' deal

Plan

One probe will be purchased per year for five years, and one shovel the last year, bringing the total for these items up to 10 each. Beacons will be purchased opportunistically, but if the number of working beacons that the club has drops below 5 then a beacon may need to be purchased. By 2011 the club should have 10 working beacons. Strategic placement of volunteers in the gear swap may be necessary in order to secure beacons; consider enticement of volunteers to give up their own chance at choice gear pickings through t-shirt reward.

Ski equipment


Ski equipment was also a high priority for members in the member survey. While the new plastic boots are a big improvement, they are destroying our ski bindings. The cheaply available aluminum bindings are not strong enough, so higher quality equipment should be purchased.

  • boots: med priority used
  • boot tongues: Piotr is looking into getting replacement tongues from scarpa
  • bindings: highest priority used, need 5 pairs fixed or purchased for September. The easiest bindings to fix in our gear room are the Superloops. Binding repair is a good task for a new quartermaster over the summer. New bindings should be G3 Targas, for durability/repairability.
  • skis: purchase new on clearance ($250 or less), one per year, otherwise highest priority used for sets with tele bindings for $200 or less (no aluminum!)
  • poles: med priority used, max $10 per pair (watch cheapskates)
  • skins: purchase full price, one 'universal' width per year, mounted with the expert system
  • snowshoes: do not buy

Plan

Purchase one set of good skis (cheap on clearance or used for high quality) with good bindings and good skins per year. Maximum spending: $550+tax = ~$630. We will discuss the possibility with G3 of purchasing one set of bindings and skins per year for a set number of years (eg 5 years). This set will always be loaned together, with a higher deposit, and be for one weekend maximum.

Mountaineering equipment


Mountaineering is the goal of many members, and is an important part of the club's history. Therefore the club should have equipment to allow members to try more technical sports. While hiking boots are considered personal equipment, the club should have a few pairs of mountaineering boots, and should have a supply of crampons. In a few years, when the ski and rope situation is improved, the club should look into purchasing better crampons and perhaps some ice tools.

  • mountaineering boots: med priority used for $150 or less
  • ice axes: do not buy, consider purchasing tools in 3 years (2010).
  • crampons: med priority used, modern strap-on only. In 3 years (2010) look into deal for several pairs together.

Plan

As there are higher priority items no mountaineering equipment should be purchased until 2010 unless a really good deal becomes available.

Climbing equipment


The club's ropes are embarrassing. We have a reasonable supply of other equipment.

ropes: purchase full price one spool dynamic rope to be cut into 60m lengths, or 3-4 ropes, for next year. After that one rope per year. Discuss sponsorship or a deal (eg spool at cost) with manufacturers.

  • shoes (36): med priority, mens' sizes only
  • helmets (16): med priority used
  • harnesses (15): med priority used, fully adjustable only

Plan

Ropes are the most important thing to purchase, as they wear out. Even new ropes should only be used for top-roping, for liability reasons. Climbers who are leading should have invested in their own ropes. It is important to have a good supply of ropes so that new climbers can practice outside, and so that fewer Longhike and Glacier school instructors have to supply their own ropes. The rope situation is currently dire, so immediate spending is required, then consistent replenishment of the club ropes. Ropes that have worn out should be considered for the climbing wall before being cut up.

Other


Most of these are considered personal items that club members should ideally own. The argument for purchasing some of these items is that people who start with nothing need them. As cloth items they tend to rot very quickly and become unusable, so we consider them to be a waste of money in the long term, and even in the short term.

  • tents: do not buy
  • backpacks: do not buy
  • sleeping bags: do not buy
  • hiking boots: do not buy
  • clothing: do not buy

Plan: Encourage new members to purchase their own gear, and consider putting an advisory to exchange students on the website stating that they should bring their hiking boots and sleeping bags with them. One option to help new members is to try to get a deal with MEC, Valhalla Pure, AJ Brooks, or another hiking store in the area to give a discount on hiking boots to club members (eg: 20% off on hiking boots valued at $200 or less), perhaps in exchange for a half price or free journal advertisement.

Plan breakdown by year

2007-2008

The quartermasters will purchase and/or repair five pairs of bindings. Piotr will build the gear database. Note that in this section all price estimates are high, in case no group deals can be found.

Must purchase:

  • one probe ($100)
  • one pair skins ($100)
  • one pair bindings purchased plus 4 repaired, for a total of 5 pairs ($300)
  • 3-4 ropes ($500)
  • one pair skis on clearance/used for quality skis: can purchase up to ($300) pair at gear swap if they come with good bindings.
  • ski tuning vice ($100)
  • safe ($100)

As the budget is $3000, this leaves $1500 for high- and med-priority used gear, gear repair equipment, replacement of stolen gear, and other gear spending.

2008-2009

Must purchase:

  • one probe ($100)
  • one pair skins ($100)
  • one pair bindings ($150)
  • one pair skis, as above, ($300)
  • one rope ($100)

We expect that the equipment budget will be $3000 again, so this must purchase list leaves $2250 for high- and med-priority used gear, gear repair equipment, replacement of stolen gear, and other gear spending.

2009-2010

The priority category of all items should be re-examined this year.

Must purchase:

  • one probe ($100)
  • one pair skins ($100)
  • one pair bindings ($150)
  • one pair skis, as above, ($300)
  • one rope ($100)

We expect that the equipment budget will be $3000 again, so this must purchase list leaves $2250 for high- and med-priority used gear, gear repair equipment, replacement of stolen gear, and other gear spending. If funds are available consider searching for a bulk deal on crampons (or sponsorship), and also look into purchasing two or three sets of ice tools, again searching for a bulk discount or sponsorship.

2010-2011

Must purchase:

  • one probe ($100)
  • one pair skins ($100)
  • one pair bindings ($150)
  • one pair skis, as above, ($300)
  • one rope ($100)

We expect that the equipment budget will be $3000 again, so this must purchase list leaves $2250 for high- and med-priority used gear, gear repair equipment, replacement of stolen gear, and other gear spending. This is the end of this gear plan period, so a new plan should be drafted.

Creative funding options

Alumni gear donations

Club alumni are an excellent source of cheap or free good quality used gear, especially skis. In addition, alumni are knowledgeable teachers, with skills that are useful for teaching events such as Longhike and Glacier school. Therefore a more active relationship with alumni, especially recent alumni, would benefit the club. Interacting with alumni is one of the Archivist's duties. Gear donation from alumni should be coordinated by the Quartermasters, with assistance from the Archivist and Historian. The timing for an alumni gear drive is good since the 90th anniversary of the club is this year and the 50th anniversary of the Journal is next year; networking at the 90th anniversary event is a priority. Rob Brusse from ACC - Vancouver will most probably be responsible for organizing the 90th anniversary summer reunion in 2008.

Sponsorship

The club needs to more actively pursue companies for sponsorship deals. As a student club we introduce a lot of young people to the outdoors, and these people will eventually purchase their own gear, so it is a financial benefit for outdoor equipment companies to help us improve our gear room.

G3. Ask G3 if it would be possible to get one probe, one pair of bindings, and one pair of skins per year for 5 years under their pro deal, rather than purchasing several items at once.

Rope. Ask rope manufacturers (such as Mammut, Beal, Edelrid, etc) about sponsoring the club by reducing the price or donating 4 ropes, or a spool of rope to be cut into 60m lengths. An argument that can be used to convince manufacturers that it is a good idea to give us ropes is that we are introducing new people to rock climbing, and that these new climbers will purchase ropes over time. With new ropes we can teach more people. Bold text