Informalex :: Informal Guides' Route and Conditions Information Exchange

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Answers

Questions of the Year

** I was subscribed but now I get a bounce from the informalex whenever I try to post a message and/or I'm not receiving posts; what's going on?

(aka: "How to Change Your Email Address")

How do I subscribe?

What is my password?

About Informalex - General Questions

What is the Informalex?
What is the MCR and how is it different from the Informalex?
Is it hard to take part?
What's a mailing list?
Who can join the Informalex?
Does it cost anything?
What responsibilities do I have as member?
Who is on the Informalex?

Using Informalex

What's it mean to "post" to the list?
I just climbed a route that hasn't been discussed lately on the Informalex. Which list should I post my information to?
How do I reply to a post?
What is the etiquette for postings?
Can I include photos?
What are some examples of good subject headings?
What are some fancy tricks I can do with the mailing list?

Informalex List Home Pages

What are the Informalex List pages?
Where can I find the list home pages?
What does it mean to "change your subscription"?
Do I have to use a web browser to change my settings, etc?
What is the digest option?
How do I view the archives?

Informalex Moderators

Who are the Moderators and what do they do?

Recommended links: - a membership-fee-based public information exchange. Worth joining if you plan to put some work into it. Some information is freely available but the best features are members-only. I recommend supporting this excellent resource - $20/year or $50 for three years. - Canadian Avalanche Association's page. Contains excellent weather information links, as well as an (under-used) public trip discussion board

GeoGratis - Free online maps resource from the Canadian Government, including digital maps of ALL of Canada (the same ones you buy, 1:50,000 and 1:250,000) in hi-res raster format. You can also download all kinds of amazing digital vector data as well if you have GIS skills.

Questions of the Year

Q - I was subscribed but now I get a bounce from the informalex whenever I try to post a message and/or I'm not receiving posts; what's going on? (aka "How to Change Your Email Address")

A - This question, or a variant thereof, should be listed as the Question of the Millenium and the answer (explained below) should eliminate 99% of all questions the moderators get.

*** When you post to the Informalex using an email account that has not yet been registered, your post will get bounced. ***

"Does this make sense to folks?" ... we don't want just anyone posting, right?

To send and/or receive email at a new address I can think of three possible scenarios, explained below. To make the changes suggested, you need to visit the Informalex list page and log on with your password (via the "Unsubscribe or Edit Options" box on the list's main page, Informalex List Page -, or Mountain Conditions Report (MCR). If you have forgotten your password, there is a button that will send you your password to your existing account email address (see below for a full explanation). If you are unable to check mail at your existing account email address because the account has been disabled, please send the moderator a note to get him to unsubscribe it for you, and then follow scenario #2...

1. "I have a new account that I want to post from, but I only want delivery to my current account." -- Just sign up for a new account with the new email address, and then disable delievery from the options page for this new account.

2."I only want the Informalex posts sent from/to my new email address. I've said bye-bye to my old address." -- You need to make a NEW subscription for your new address. You should also either UNSUBSCRIBE or SUSPEND DELIVERY for the old account.

3."I want to make and receive posts from both my current account and a new account!" -- OK, no problem, just make a new subscription for your new email address and don't unsubscribe from your old.

If you are still having problems, contact the appropriate moderator and he'll refer you to this FAQ... No, seriously, he'll probably help you out.

Q - What's my password?

A - Your password was emailed to you when you signed up, and is emailed in a monthly reminder. You can also request a password to be sent to you via the list page at Scroll down to the bottom of the page, enter your email address in the bottom-most box, then click the button beside it that reads "Unsubscribe or edit options". You can also use the email-based commands.

About Informalex

Q - What is the Informalex?

A - The Informalex is a subscription mailing list for the exchange of conditions and route information among ACMG guides. It was started as a CC-list by Mark Klassen and Grant Statham in 2000 and has grown to a current (June 2013) participant list of about 550+ guides. In 2006 it became an ACMG-sanctioned list6, and is now run by the ACMG's "MCR Committee".

Q - Is it hard to take part?

A - No! All that is necessary to take advantage of the basic function--that of posting and receiving messages--is to sign up by emailing a subscription request to the list you wish to join. Please see the Informalex main page,, for guidelines and links to the list home pages for details.

Q - What's a mailing list?

It's a way of simplifying sending emails to a bunch of people. Instead of CC'ing hundreds of email addresses, you just send to a single list address. The mailing list program then distributes a copy of that email to all of the subscribed members.

Q - Who can join the Informalex?

You must be an ACMG or UIAGM/IFMGA guide practising in Western Canada to join (special cases may be made--contact the appropriate moderator if you have questions).

Q - Does it cost anything?

A - Membership is free, but you must make a commitment to participate.

Q - What responsibilities do I have as member?

A - Members of the Informalex should commit to making regular contributions--not just glean the efforts of others for their personal benefit. The Informalex is free to use--but it shouldn't come without a cost, that being the effort of contributing regularly. See the Informalex home page for guidelines,

Using Informalex

Q - What's it mean to "post" to the list?

A - When a member sends an email to the list address, this is called "posting" to the list. Everyone subscribed to the list receives postings as a personal email from the sender. Non-members may post a message but this is subject to the approval of the moderator.

Q - How do I reply to a post?

There are two ways of responding to a post.

  1. If you want to send your email to just the original sender personally, "reply-to" just the sender.
  2. If you want to reply to the entire list, use your email client's "reply-to-all" function. This is called "continuing a thread" and messages can be sorted according to these threads; threads are groups of emails that are all related by the fact that people have replied to them.

Q - What is the etiquette for postings?

A - Guidelines for postings are described on the Informalex home page, Please do not post the same message to multiple lists as some guides may subscribe to more than one list and will get copies of the same posting.

Q - Can I include photos?

A - Yes, with a caveat. For the sake of those with limited mail capacities and/or modem connections there is a size limit of 1000 KB (1 MB) per email. Messages over 1000 KB in size will be bounced, so if you DO choose to include photos they should be "optimised for the web".

Here are some tips on how to reduce the size of your photos:

1) If you have a Windows machine, Download Irfanviewer for FREE!, a small utilitiy recommended to me by Jordy Shephard. Jordy has written me an email that describes what it does and how to use it. Click here for the details.
2) Your digital camera's or scanner's image software - chances are you can save for web-optimisation using software you got with your hardware.
3) Free online optimisation utilities such as Netmechanic's GIFbot, which is an easy-to-use, free optimisation utility. Your 1.5 MB file will suddenly become 100 KB or smaller. Steps: (1) Browse for your file under "Image File", (2) enter your email address, (3) "Select Output Format": JPEG and/or GIF, (4) Click "Test Now". A number of samples of various sizes will be given; choose the smallest one that looks the best, save it to your computer, then attach it as per a normal photo.
4) Photoshop or the GIMP (free; Windows, Mac or Linux) - if you own a copy of Photoshop, choose the menu option "File > Save for Web" and follow the instructions. The GIMP will also do something similar.
5) Download Microsoft's Image Resizer PowerToy. This one is pretty easy to use--right click to resize.
6) Mac Users, just use Iphoto to shrink your photos.

Remember: Emails > 1 MB will be bounced, so keep them small. Most photos can be shrunk to about <150 kB with very acceptable results.

Q - What are some examples of good subject headings?

A - Your subject heading should give everyone a good idea of what information you are providing. If it's a conditions report, state the name of the area, e.g. "Bugaboos" or "Icefields - A2". If its some other issue, make it clear what you're talking about in your message. Don't use subjects like "Hi" or "Question" or blank.

Q - Who is on the Informalex?

For those of you who wonder, "Who's Who on the Informalex?", there is now an easy way for you to find out anytime your heart desires. It's a simple two-step process:

1. Compose an email to

2. In the Subject: header simply put the following line: who [password] address=[email]

Note that:
[password] = your Informalex password (a reminder is sent 1x/month telling you what this is!)
[email] = your subscription email address


Subject: who blah98

If is an Informalex member with blah98 as his/her password, s/he will soon get sent a complete member list with real names and email addresses.

Informalex List Home Pages

Q - What are the Informalex List pages?

A - The Informalex List Pages allow guides to make subscription requests, and allow members to change their subscriptions.

Q - Where can I find the list home pages?

A - The list home page is found at the following URL:

Q - What does it mean to "change your subscription"?

A - This section is accessed at the bottom of the List Home Page: enter your email address and click the "Edit Options" button, and a page will come up with a description of a variety of settings that can be changed. These settings include password reminders, password changes, digest options, etc. and should be described adequately there. You can check other members' settings--look at for how I like to have things set up. Changes of course require the input of a password.

Q - Do I have to use a web browser to change my settings, etc?

A - No! You can do everything by email, so you don't need a browser at all. Send an email to with the word "help" in the subject and you'll get a return email with all kinds of goodies. Click here for a copy of it if you're in a rush.

Q - What is the digest option?

A - "Digest" means that you'll get the day's postings collected into one single daily email. Handy for limited the inbox clutter--but maybe more difficult to keep track of what's going on. You can change this after you subscribe in the "change subscription" section.

Q - How do I view the archives?

A - You can access the archives via the list home pages, or Click on the appropriate link; you will be prompted for your username (email address) and password.

You then have the option of viewing the archives by their Thread (discussion topic), Subject, Date, Sender, etc.

Photos cannot be viewed directly from the archive web interface (they look like pages of scrambled code...); to do this you must download the email as a text file and open it with a unix-compatible mail reader that opens MIME-formatted attachments... (see below under downloading "raw archives" for a couple of clues on how to do this; best bet for technologically inhibited folks is to ask the person who made the post for a copy).

You can also download the entire "raw archive". If you use a Linux/Unix/MAC OS X, then you're in business: just use pine, elm, or your favourite email client to open the file; HOWEVER, if you use a Windows machine then you will have difficulty with the raw archive because most windows email clients struggle with ".mbox" or unix mail files.

The good news is that many freely available mail clients will let you do this; the bad news is that it's a little complicated, and for a neophyte probably overwhelming. The easiest by far that I've found (and I've looked at about 6 or 7 options) is:

Mozilla - Mozilla's advantage is that it is very easy to install the program; bad news is that it is very tricky to figure out how to open the archive "mbox" file. You basically have to move it to the folder that contains your "Local Folders" (you'll have to figure that one out on your own; look under "Application Data" under C:\Windows\Profile\ or C:\Windows.

Sylpheed for Win32 - Somewhat easier to use, tricky to install.

Good luck.

Informalex Moderators

Q - Who are the Moderators and what do they do?

A - Moderators monitor the Informalex and approve subscription requests. Direct your concerns, suggestions, etc. to them.

Tom Wolfe

<<back to the Informalex Main Page

Major Facelift Jun 28, 2007

Questions? Contact the Moderator