The continuation of our Get to Know Your Gear segment is going to focus on avalanche beacons.
What is an Avalanche Beacon? – It is a radio transceiver that is used to locate men and women in a search and rescue if they are buried beneath the snow due to an avalanche.
How does it work? – When a person is buried under the snow, their radio will send out a transmission that connects to other beacons. The search party can turn their transceivers to receive and use the device to measure distance and direction to the buried party. The standard for beacons is to transmit signals at 457 kHz (kilo Hertz) so it is important that the beacon you choose is also transmitting at this rate.
When should you use it? - Anytime you are skiing, snowboarding, hiking or ice climbing in the backcountry, it is important that you use an avalanche beacon. It is during these activities that you are most likely to encounter a loose snow slide avalanche. And remember, practice using your beacon with the men and women you will be in the wilderness with, it is not a useful instrument if used improperly.
Now that you know a little more about this particular piece of equipment, you can evaluate if it will be important to use on your next snow adventures. Happy exploring!