Beacon Prep For The Season


With Arapahoe Basin already open for the season to the delight of many Coloradoans (and to the jealous envy of every other snow hound across the country not close enough to enjoy it), and snow falling with frequency at upper elevations, we are eagerly perched at the edge of our seats ready to dive into the season.

Wall sits and plyometrics, waxing and edging, packing away swim trunks and unpacking wooly socks, upgrading gear; as we prepare for endless turns and to sniff out secret stashes, its also time to refresh our skills for safety in the backcountry.

Recently, we had the opportunity to share the latest Ortovox and Deuter gear with a group of folks from snowsports media. From the newest ski pack designs to the latest beacon technology, it was an opportunity for gearheads - including ourselves - to geek out on incredible innovation and receive some refresher instruction on backcountry snow safety.

The Ortovox 3+ is new for the 2012/2013 season and features the incredible new Smart Antenna Technology. Depending on the angle of burial, the antenna switches to the most advantageous angle for the strongest signal out to searchers. After testing out the 3+, one attendee commented, “Man, I learned what beacon I want to carry…more important the one I want my team to have on them.”

On the heels of an intense winter where too many friends were lost in avalanche tragedies, the need to be prepared is even more, and painfully, obvious. Any education and gear improvements that may help to increase chances of survival are a no-brainer.

Our demo day included an intensive on beacon use including technical and practical skills. Walton Works president and event organizer, Todd wanted the focus to be on snow safety and education. As he says, “the tools are only as good as the people using them and if you don't know how to use a beacon, shovel and probe, it doesn't do anyone any good. So get out there and practice before the season gets underway.” With that in mind, here are a few tips on preparing for the winter:

Make sure your gear is in good working order
- Replace batteries in your beacon; put your probe and shovel together to make sure they function properly
- Fix or replace any gear piece of your kit that doesn't work correctly
- Pack your backpack ahead of time to be sure you know and can easily access gear in an emergency

Take a snow safety class in your area.
- The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) lists courses across the country that have received certification through their organization. They also offer educational resources on their site for reference.
- Many guiding services also offer avi courses and refreshers.

Have a party and practice with your friends
- Make it fun! Put a beacon in a Ziploc bag, “hide” it in a pile of leaves, sand at the beach, behind a bucket or under a flower pot
- Take turns finding the beacon and celebrate your skills over brews and a  late season bbq

Wishing everyone a safe and fun season!