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How to use an avalanche beacon

 

13 January 2016 Author Paul Quigley

 

An avalanche beacon search consists of three phases: signal, coarse and fine search. It is highly recommended to practice them in order to become more effective when using your transceiver.

 

Signal Search


Signal Search

Performed when no signal has been detected, starting at the last-known area. If there's a last known area, then search straight down the fall line from there. If there is no last known area, search the entire debris pile for the victim. With multiple searchers, spread out no more than 40 metres apart. If your alone, make switchbacks no more than 40 metres apart, 20 metres from each side. Move fast, always looking for clues on the surface.

 

 

Coarse Search


Coarse Search

Once the signal is detected, use your directional lights and distance display to follow the victim's signal. This will often be curved. Analog beacon users will need to adjust your sensitivity control. Move as fast as possible until you reach a distance of about three metres from the victim.

 

 

Fine Search


Fine Search

Slow down and pay close attention to your distance readings; note, directional arrows are less important. Get your beacon as close as possible to the snow surface. Once the lowest distance reading is found, search along the perpendicular axis for an even lower reading.