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Avy Beacon

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm going to get into BC skiing this year since I now live in Bellingham, Washington near Mt. Baker. I was wondering what is a good Avy Beacon to buy for a beginner, but would also still be good the more I get into BC skiing? I am planning on taking an Avy course this winter and trying to get ready with gear that I will be able to use and to go BC skiing with a few friends that have been doing it for awhile.
post #2 of 18
I use the Mammut Barryvox which has an automatic switchover from analog to digital search. Any digital (DSP) beacon is going to be easier to initially learn, and any beacon requires practice to make search patterns second nature. Most courses will provide one for your use, then you can decide after seeing what those are like and what others bring with them. If you have a partner, get the same brand that he carries.
post #3 of 18
Most people recommend the BCA Tracker as the easiest to use, and is fine for anyone. The analog beacons require more practice and have some advantages for the pros. The Barryvox is supposed to be pretty easy to use, too. I like my Tracker- got it last season. Also, there are a few places (I know there are here in CO, anyway) that have "beacon basins" for practice- there is one at Loveland and one at Breck later in the season.
post #4 of 18
If you spend a few minutes googling around, you can find some very credible reviews and analysis. Despite the fact that it was a bit-self serving, BCA used to have (and I assume they still have) a good study on location speeds using digital vs analog tranceivers. I buy into the logic of it. For those of us who maybe do a quick practice round once or twice a season (which is apparently more than many people do), I can't imagine using an analog unit. Our household has BCA Trackers largely because they are brain-dead simple to use.

I have to add the disclaimer that I'm not usually in serious avy territory, do not have lots of experience with different tranceivers & fortunately for me, have never even been close to having to do a real recovery. On the other hand, one could argue that anyone who skied off Ninety Nine 90 last year was close enough As noted above - a credible class with a good field session or two is a really, really good idea...
post #5 of 18
Hmm, 9990. I resemble that comment:
post #6 of 18
Oh yeah - while the thread is focused on beacons, this is one of those places where an ounce of prevention is worth way, way more than a pound of cure...

And while you are at it, check out http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/f...splay.php?f=17 as well as avy related posts in their general forum...
post #7 of 18
Probably worth adding, the Barryvox beacon is on sale at REI for $239. That is a pretty nice savings if you are in the market for an analog/digital beacon that is easy to use. http://www.rei.com/online/store/Prod...000102&vcat =
post #8 of 18
Not to be a noodge... or maybe I didn't understand your post, Spindrift.

A beacon isn't within the realm of preventative if what you mean by preventative is preventing getting caught in an avalanche.

In the US the survival rate of beacon wearers caught in an avalanche is 30%. Those are crappy odds.

You hope to never need it.
post #9 of 18
I have two Ortovox F1s. Those are analog. I haven't seen a need to upgrade yet. There's a lot more to an efficient search than the type of beacon equipment being used.

I'm certainly no expert. But I have seen more people fumble a search through human error than machine error. Way more.

Just getting people to shut up and be quiet during a search is hard enough. Then there's the one leader rule to run the incident. Remembering to mark significant positions based off of beacon readings. Approaching the slide area with safety in mind is a biggy.

I would recommend you part your money out between a beacon and a class. Go with an analog beacon and put the rest of the money towards classes. Then later you can get a digital beacon and then you'll have two. Two is good.

But if you really think that digtal is the way to go for the first purchase, then convince your buddies to go digital before you do. Know what I mean?

It's like the guy who shows up having forgotten his shovel. Volunteer the shovel off your back immediately.
post #10 of 18
some more tips...

Don't buy a plastic shovel. Don't buy the claw thingy either. Those devices work great for fresh snow but are lousy for hardened avy debris. Go with a solid metal shovel ...the bigger the better.

Don't buy ski poles that convert to probes. They are difficult to assemble in the heat of the moment with gloves and an unstable surface. Removing frozen baskets is nothing like removing them in the comfort of your living room. Go with a dedicated probe that is at least 8' long.

Okay this part is a little anal ...I'll admit it. But what do you want? An anal rescuer or the guy who has all the latest gear and no idea of how to manage that gear. Just look at all the skiers who buy racing skis and can only use $10 bucks worth of the skis potential. Read on...

Always mark the date of your fresh batteries. Never trust battery indicators. Always remove the batteries from your beacon when you're done with it. That will prevent the possibility of battery acid corrosion. Always replace with new fresh batteries when in doubt. That means if it has been over a month since you used the beacon, then replace the batteries with new ones.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seven
Not to be a noodge... or maybe I didn't understand your post, Spindrift.

A beacon isn't within the realm of preventative if what you mean by preventative is preventing getting caught in an avalanche.

In the US the survival rate of beacon wearers caught in an avalanche is 30%. Those are crappy odds.

You hope to never need it.
My point was exactly that - real in the field use of a beacon implies something catastrophic has happened. Hence the ounce of prevention comment. Best to apply knowledge and good practices to minimize the odds of being in that situation.

It seems there are people who think just owning a beacon is a safety measure - never mind that they are not proficient in its use, know nothing of layering, route selection, etc. Heck, some folks who own beacons seem to think a beacon's place is in a backpack or even in their glove box -- or that a beacon with dead batteries is a magical good luck charm...

Having said that, the statistics make it pretty clear that not only does a well equipped, practiced group have better odds of avoiding trouble - it has better odds of dealing with a catastrophic event than a group that is not so equipped and practiced.

Seems to me that there is no excuse for anyone skiing off piste, even inbounds at many areas, not to take at least a basic avy class. (Here in the Seattle area, Gary Brill's described at http://www.geocities.com/garyabrill/avalanche.html seems to be the standard.) Then load up on all the right gear as well...
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seven
It's like the guy who shows up having forgotten his shovel. Volunteer the shovel off your back immediately.
post #13 of 18
Okay, I misunderstood. We're on the same page.
post #14 of 18
As far as beacons go the best beacon is the one you know how to use. Pretty simple eh? That being said, you'll probably have to practice more with a pure analog than a digi to get it down.
The BCA Tracker is a bench mark in the digi world. Rightfully so, they basically invented it. I think the Pieps DSP is slightly easier to use, but more expensive than a tracker. Also it was been pointed out it has a LED screen that is not backlit. That could be a problem if it's getting dark and you don't have a headlamp. Then again, you probably have a lot more problems if it's dark and no headlamp.
Arva beacons have an led screen but it's back lit in search mode. Nicest carry harness of any beacon makers, imo.
With the analogs, range is what you get. Ortovox and SOS are about the only one's making analog beacons. Analog is proven and with practice is just about as quick as any digi. In a multiple burial scenario, with practice, they might be a bit better. The pieps DSP is the only digi, that I have been real comfortable with in a multiple scenario. Then again, I need to practice more with that one.
As far as shovels go. Stay away from Polycarbs. Way durable, but deflect when having to chop ice. The new composite blades though they haven't caught on yet, are as strong as the polycarbs, but chop ice as well as a metal, and don't bend. I've bent several metal shovels chopping ice. A voile, g3, and nic-impex. Then again the metal shovels are a tad lighter than the composites.

As has been mentioned, the best thing you can do is not get caught in an avy. It's better to have the gear and not need it. So read books, and take a class or two or three, and practice.
post #15 of 18
While we're here, I'm new to all of this, but I'm def interested. Are transievers compatable? Can dif brands work together? Sorry, as I'm sure these ?'s were asked a million times.
post #16 of 18
All the modern transceivers comply with international standards. They play well together.
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift
All the modern transceivers comply with international standards. They play well together.
As long as you buy new ones. The standard is now the 457 frequency. Do not buy anything that is 2257. If you happen to stumble on some 2257 frequency beacons, please let me know, I need to buy a pair to use on my mutt.
post #18 of 18
Get a BCA beacon they work very very well, and are easy to use. It will last you a long time so its worth it to spend some money here.

Get a metal shovel with an extendaqble handle, perferabbly with a "D" style grip.

Since you will be at Baker and we get a ton of snow, buy the longest probe that you can find.

Finally take all of the Avy classes that Baker offers. Not only will it teach you about snowpacks etc. It will SHOW YOU how it relates to the EXACT terrain you will be skiing.
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