Investing in an Avalanche Beacon
By. Brad Kopitz
For those of us who like to explore off the beaten path, the backcountry is our calling. But although the backcountry offers unmatched beauty, it also has its far share of dangers. Perhaps the largest of those dangers is the threat of an avalanche. This article will explore the importance of investing in an avalanche beacon if you plan on snowshoeing in the backcountry.
If you snowshoe in the backcountry, avalanches are a very real danger. Purchasing an avalanche beacon is the first step to staying safe. However, avalanche beacons only work if you are in a group and everyone in your group has one. This is because avalanche beacons perform two functions. The first is to send out a signal if you get caught in an avalanche. Rescuers will use this signal to locate you. The second is to act as a tracker to pick up and locate the signal of another beacon. This is why it is so important when you hit the backcountry, be sure to never go alone, and be sure everyone in the group has an avalanche beacon.
There are a number of different avalanche beacons on the market. They have a range of prices and features, so it is important to do your research before investing. The most important feature in an avalanche beacon is ease of use. Different beacons use different systems to locate signals. Chose the one that is the most intuitive and is easiest for you to use. Another feature you will want to consider is the beacons ability to pick up multiple signals, in case multiple people in your party get trapped. Finally, different because are more precise and more accurate at locating signals. An avalanche beacon is definitely not an area where you want to try and cut costs. To be frank, better beacons are just plain safer because they offer better features. Having a beacon that works well and that you are comfortable with is incredibly important. As we like to say, it will be the most expensive piece f equipment you hope you never have to use.
Once you have selected a beacon, be sure to practice with it. This means practice using your beacon to locate a signal. Many ski resorts have beacon practice areas. If yours does not, practice hiding one beacon in your yard and trying to find it. A beacon is no good if you don’t know how to use it. Many ski patrols also offer avalanche beacon courses. The more knowledgeable you are, the safer you will be. So if you do plan on hitting the backcountry, be sure to get an avalanche beacon and practice with it often. Happy trails!