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Recco reflectors

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Does anyone know where I may be able to purchase the stick on Recco reflectors from(the type that attach on to the boots), and their cost? I will need to have them sent mail order.


post #2 of 8
Try: (search on recco)
...but my impression is that ski areas mainly use the recco system to find avy shell duds, and that skiers are seldom equipped with these anymore (since beacons have improved so much). But I could be wrong, and I would be interested in what you find (as well as why you're looking).
Here's one view:
("The not-so-great part about Recco is that the detector device looks suspiciously like the awkward antennae used on "Wild Kingdom" to track down radio-collared mountain lions for Jim to wrestle to the ground. It also costs about $5,000. . . . [T]he chief advantage is to SAR teams that can then find your crushed carcass without leaving the comfort of the helicopter. . .")
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks, I have been able to find sources from the UK, but not in the USA. In general I find it faster to order stuff from the US.

Recco is very widely used in Europe, which is where I ski at the moment. Loot at and click on “Ski Areas”, then “list of all ski areas”. The ski areas in Europe are very different to the USA, with avalanches a far more common occurrence than in the USA.

In Europe there is no such thing as “in” or “out” of bounds, but if I were skiing a long way away from the pistes then I would carry an avalanche beacon. However this would be an overkill for where I ski. The beauty of the Recco system is how inexpensive the “tags” are. These tags are being incorporated into clothing and equipment, and people like myself are also attaching the tags to their boots. The result is that skiers who would not normally have any form of protection at all do now at least have some. I feel it’s the appropriate level for what I do and where I go.

I read the Crested story some time ago and find it absurd (though note they also use the system). If avalanche rescue is some kind of fashion show to the writer then I’m seriously in the wrong game! In the unlikely event I’m lying under 100 T of snow and ice I’d rather not rely on someone managing to find me solely by trying to aim an avalanche probe up my date! These tags cost something like 20 bucks; $20 for at least some chance of being pulled out while still alive.
post #4 of 8
I agree that the tags are commendably inexpensive, as well as reliable (i.e., no batteries to fail, can't forget to turn it on, put it on, etc.), and quite a few European as well as U.S. resorts have the detectors. But my main concern (and maybe some of those articles on the recco site address it?) is how reliable the recco-detection effort would be in an avalanche rescue.

For example, when we were skinning up above the Argentierre hut, if something happened to our party, other parties in the area might see the avalanche and come to our rescue, equipped with beacons, but a recco detector would have to helicoptered in, which could take maybe 5, 10, 15 minutes? And even if we were just skiing off piste from Les Grand Montets, is a recco detector at the tramway summit station waiting to be skied down by the patrol, or once again would we have to wait for a helicopter? And although we saw plenty of helicopters buzzing all around in Chamonix, what if the weather were stormy and flying conditions not good? And just how many recco detectors are standing by in the Chamonix valley? (As opposed to many thousands of avy beacons.)

I presume answers must exist to these questions, but I have no idea what they are...
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Jonathan, yes I hear what you're saying, but with all due respects I think you may be missing the point. Beacons are very expensive, but essential for any serious off-piste skiing. The Recco reflectors are very inexpensive and increase the likelihood of being found compared with nothing. I am not proposing one over the other, indeed most sources I have come across suggest neither is a replacement for the other, ideally both should be used.

As mentioned, the alternative is nothing, and while your series of “what ifs” are valid, I’m not sure what you’re proposing. In Europe I ski either on or close to the piste, and most in this situation carry nothing at all. Nevertheless I have seen avalanches, or evidence of them, in the area, hence would like to carry something to afford some likelihood of being found should I find myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. One would like to think the Av guys do their job well, and they almost certainly do, but whole villages get wiped out with monotonous regularity in these parts as I’m sure you know. You have clearly skied Europe, hence know it’s a very different from the situation in the US. Skiing in Europe is essentially recognised as a risk sport, with the attitude that “There’s some lifts, there’s a mountain, go nuts. If there’s an avalanche in the area, well S%$t happens!” For this reason one can never be complacent and I feel Recco is the appropriate level of protection for the type of skiing I do.


post #6 of 8
Pete, I think we're actually in agreement here, and I do understand your point. My assessment goes something like this if it's a complete burial (i.e., no arm or other body part visible):

1. Spend $0 and you stand some exceedingly slim chance that avy dogs or a probe search will locate your body and then dig you out within the optimal 15-minute window or possibly good 30-minute window. (After that, survival is almost hopeless, although someone did survive a reported 38 minutes b/c of an Avalung.)

2. Spend $20 and you stand some ??% chance that an organized rescue part/helicopter will arrive with a recco detector.

3. Spend $100 (used analog) to $200 (digital bought in Europe) to $300 (digital bought in U.S.) and you can rest assured that any ski tourers, guides, ski patrol, or other rescue party will locate your body quickly.

So it's just a question of what the % is for #2, and how much extra $ you have. (Although you might even be able to buy a beacon in Europe, use it on your ski trip, then resell it at a profit back in the U.S., given the much higher prices here for ski mountaineering gear.) But if all you have to spend on avy safety is $20, then we can both agree that a recco would be $20 well spent.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Well I'd add 20 bucks to option 3, because if I were in a situation where I thought a beacon was appropriate I'd have Recco as well.

Good idea to sell the beacon, only I live in Australia, where beacons are worth zero.


post #8 of 8
Ah, I see, my apologies for mistakenly assuming you were from the U.S.

You might also want to inquire about recco at the following site:
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