Thursday, November 9, 2017

Tech Tips: The "Landing Strip" fine search...what is it?

Mammut likes to use an airplane and airport as an analogy for doing a beacon search.  When you are really far away from the airport, you can fly high and fast, and directional changes wont affect your ability to make a safe landing--we liken this to the signal-search phase of a beacon search.  As you get closer, the airplane needs to slow down a bit and lose elevation, and needs to reduce any maneuvering in order to come into the airport in the correct direction--this is akin to the coarse search.  In the final approach to the runway, the plane needs to slow way down, lose most of its elevation and come in very straight--this is the fine-search.  For this reason, when we teach beacon-searching, we use a "airport" visual.
The "airport" analogy for a beacon search has the rescuer slowing down and holding the beacon lower as they approach the buried subject, similar to a plane slowing down and losing elevation when approaching the runway.

Many instructors teach a 2-axis grid fine-search.  However, many people end up performing a pretty sloppy grid search, complete with excessive movement of the searching beacon and elevation changes that affect the ultimate accuracy of their pinpoint location, and spend a lot of time doing so.  One alternative that is easier and faster for many people is to teach the "landing strip" fine search. In the "landing strip" approach, the rescuer approaches

Monday, October 30, 2017

Tech Tips: The BarryvoxS EXTENDED REFERENCE GUIDE

Your new Mammut avalanche transceiver  comes with a user manual printed in several languages, but if you like to get the most from your equipment it's worth going online to download a copy of the Barryvox S Extended Reference Guide (link) or the Barryvox Extended Reference Guide (link).  
The Extended Reference Guide is available online as a PDF, and contains additional information on advanced searching that is not found in the basic User Manual included with the beacon.


The Barryvox S Extended Reference Guide contains the basic User Manual that came with your beacon, but also contains additional comprehensive information for your BarryvoxS on device settings, advanced search and rescue techniques, and in particular the "Pro Search" option and the alternate search mode, which are not contained in the more basic User Manual.  Anyone who will ever practice alternate search strategies such as micro strips, micro-box or 3-circle should consult these instructions on utilizing the advanced search functions of the Barryvox S.  It is an important and valuable resource for advanced recreational and professional users—and all educators.

The Barryvox Extended Reference Guide contains additional information on conducting Group checks before a tour, more comprehensive rescue strategy, and more comprehensive information and guidance for conducting multiple burial searches and companion rescue guidance.  

If any of the above describes you, you can download a copy of the appropriate Extended Reference Guide directly at the links above, or through the Beacon Info landing page on this blog (along with other resources).  


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Where did the "Barryvox" get it's name? Barry the rescue dog!


Picture yourself in the Swiss Alps in the year 1810.  Small farming villages dot the landscape below the high, glacier-covered Alps.  In fall, farmers move their herds from the high alpine meadows full of  grasses and flowers, to the lower elevations to escape the first snows of the season.  Travel between valleys means crossing the high passes at altitudes up to 8000feet, on paths and rough roads, some of which, like the Great St. Bernard Pass in Southwestern Switzerland, were built by the Romans.  Unlike the modern paved roads and tunnels underneath the passes we see today, simply going to the next valley was a difficult and sometimes risky journey subject to sudden storms, snowfall in any month of the year and frequent avalanches.  When a traveler or a herder went missing in the high alpine, if they were lucky one of the rescue dogs was turned loose to perform a rescue.  These dogs, the ancestors of today’s St Bernard, were able to follow a person’s scent through deep snowdrifts and hopefully make a rescue.

The most famous of these dogs was Barry Der Menschenretter or “Barry the people rescuer” from the Great St. Bernard Hospice.
Barry the rescue dog is the namesake of Mammut Barryvox avalanche transceivers 
Barry, who lived from 1800 to 1814, is credited with about 40 rescues, the most well-known

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Deciding Between the New Barryvox S and Barryvox Transcievers: Which Beacon Should I Get?

Since Mammut has two brand new transceivers available this October, this post will try to help people decide which is best for them, and at the end I'll provide some guidance specifically for professional organizations who operate a fleet of transceivers.  We've also covered the basic functions and what's new about the beacons already HERE (link), and will continue to go into detail on various functions and features to help people get familiar with the new beacons throughout this fall and winter.  Anyone who has specific questions that aren't answered, please let us know in the comments so we can edit to clarify or include the info you need in a future post.
The Barryvox S offers enhanced performance that benefits all users, regardless of their experience.  It also offers additional function for anyone who will practice an Alternate Search Strategy such as micro strips.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Is it winter yet? UIAA unveils new Standard for avalanche shovels

It's September, and last week it hit 24-degrees F on the summit of Mt Washington here in New England, so despite fires raging across the Western US and Canada and tropical storms across the Southeastern US, winter can't be far away.  Here at Mammut North American HQ we're busy putting the final finishing touches on our plans for the new Barryvox and Barryvox S avalanche transceivers, which will begin shipping early in October, and we have a number of informational posts tee'd up so people can get up to speed on these new beacons, as well as on our usual general interest-topics and events calendar for the season.  If you are interested in keeping up to date this winter and haven't subscribed to this blog, please do so on the right margin below the "tags"--we promise to keep the spam to an absolute minimum!

This is just a dude with a broken shovel.  It's annoying when you can't dig out your driveway to get to work, it's quite a different thing if your shovel were to break in an emergency.  The new standard should give users information to help ensure the equipment they are using is worthy in a rescue.
Speaking of general interest topics, the UIAA, The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, has recently unveiled a new Standard for avalanche rescue shovels.  The new standard, UIAA 156 (link), sets parameters for the size, geometry and strength that an avalanche shovel must meet in order to pass the testing, and has been in the works for quite some time.  Previous to this Standard there was no industry-wide standard for shovels so users had no independent verification of what was deemed to be an acceptable rescue tool.

Friday, March 3, 2017

New Mammut Barryvox and BarryvoxS avalanche beacons for Fall 2017

The proverbial cat is out of the bag on our new avalanche transceivers, so here is some information for people who have questions about the new beacons or about Mammut's continuing warranty & service for their existing Pulse or Element beacons.  This post has background info and details on the new beacons, as well as a timeline for availability, info for warranty during the transition, and some info for operators utilizing our fleet management tools.

First, a little history:  Barry, the fabled Swiss avalanche rescue dog (link), is the namesake of the Mammut Barryvox beacons—Vox means voice, so BARRYVOX means “Barry’s Voice”, or “the sound of rescue on the way”. Because of this we like to say the Barryvox has been at the forefront of avalanche rescue from the rescue dog, to the very first avalanche beacon technology, and now to the new Barryvox S and Barryvox avalanche transceivers, which will be new in October of 2017.  
The new BarryvoxS avalanche beacon, available Fall 2017, utilizes dynamic screen icons such as the rescuer running down the avalanche path shown here during the signal-search, in order to visually cue a rescuer throughout the search.  Extensive usability testing during development allowed us to find the most intuitive-to-follow icons, as well as help to alleviate some common searching errors.

The existing Pulse Barryvox and Element Barryvox beacons will be replaced by these new beacons and, since we are out for this winter will no longer be available.  Mammut will continue to provide warranty and after-sales service for the Pulse and Element as we have in the past.  Any owners or fleet operators with concerns about this, please read the "Fleet Operators & fleet management tools" section at the bottom of this post and then if you want give us a call at North American HQ at (800) 451-5127, or if you're outside the US and Canada at the Barryvox Service Center in your country (link).

OVERVIEW
The basic functions of both the Pulse and Element are intact in the new beacons, but we dramatically improved the simplicity, ease of use and the performance of both.  Both are 3-antenna beacons with a marking function, and the new development was focused on three main priorities:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Northeast and California Backcountry Events

Northeasterners, fear not--we haven't forgotten about you! Mammut reps will be attending a few backcountry ski/board and snow safety events this winter and spring in the Northeast region.  Most offer clinics, practice and a chance to check out gear--it isn't as easy to find quality info and equipment selection in the Northeast as it is in other areas, so if you have questions or want to see the gear firsthand, this is a great opportunity to check out some of the coolest backcountry in the East, along with the latest backcountry travel and safety equipment.  If you're interested in checking out a new beacon or pack, or have questions about backcountry safety or equipment for us, stop by and say hi!

NOTICE:  Unfortunately, the 2017 Mountaineer Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival (link) in Keene Valley, NY has been CANCELLED due to the unseasonably warm weather making for no-go conditions on many of the event venues.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Are Avalanche Airbags Effective in the Eastern US and Canada?

Here at Mammut we sometimes get contacted about what our stance is on avalanche airbags in the Northeastern US and Quebec, Canada.  The topic came up again recently, so I put this together to give people the relevant information to judge for themselves.  I also wanted to hear from some experts on the subject and see what thoughts they had. It's turned out to be a bit lengthy, hopefully some of you find this helpful because we think the conclusions are valid anywhere, not just the East.

First, some of you may be thinking that "Eastern avalanche terrain" is an oxymoron, and herein lies some of the issue.  Many Eastern skiers spend much of their time in areas that simply aren't avalanche-prone, and because of this it's completely normal for many backcountry skiers to not carry any avalanche rescue equipment.  But, as Frank Carus, the acting Lead Snow Ranger for the Mount Washington Avalanche Center (link) points out:   "We have plenty of places where you can get buried".
The North Face of Gothics in New York's Adirondacks is a popular spring ice and snow climbing route, but occasionally holds enough snow to get skied, or to avalanche.

The Northeastern US and Quebec are both speckled with terrain that has become popular with skiers and riders, areas that in some cases are remarkably similar to the Rockies and the West that is more typically associated with avalanche terrain.  Every couple years there are avalanche accidents (link), including fatalities (link), across the region to prove this point.
One issue that Carus and others wrestle with is the perception among some people--even those who are aware of Eastern avalanches--that even though the East has them, that "Eastern avalanches are different".

Monday, December 5, 2016

Batteries for Pulse Barrvyox & Element Barryvox

One of the questions we get frequently is about which batteries to use in Pulse Barryvox and Element Barryvox beacons.  Originally, Mammut recommended using Duracell Ultra batteries.  We made this recommendation because those specific batteries were widely available globally, were of reasonably good quality and exhibited acid leakage less than others, and seemed to be consistent in battery life from lot to lot.  However, several things have happened:
This image shows 2, AAA LR03 alkaline batteries with different-shaped negative terminals.  It's OK if the wrapper is flush with the negative terminal, the problem is if the terminal is recessed BELOW the wrapper.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Refilling airbag cylinders with the Hill MK4 high pressure hand pump

It’s official!  Many of our customers asked about whether it was OK to use a high-pressure air pump to refill our airbag cylinders. Of course you can still have your cylinder refilled at most dive shops and many paintball shops, but if your travels take you to locations where refill is difficult or if your schedule is tight this could be a hassle. After testing, Mammut is recommending the Hill MK4 air pump to refill our airbag cylinders in such circumstances. 

The Hill MK4 high pressure hand pump can be used to refill Mammut airbag cartridges