Monday, July 7, 2014

My Gu packets interfere with my beacon!?? Really?


It’s summertime, and few of us have avalanche beacons occupying our attention (if you do, please send a postcard!). Nevertheless, the other day I was part of a conversation that readers of this blog will find very interesting.  It started as many of these do, an email from an acquaintance about his buddies’ beacon. 

I have a friend who has a Pulse that occasionally beeps and displays something like “457 failure to send” (I’ve been with him when this happens). How can he get his beacon fixed/replaced?”

I replied that the “457 Send Failure”(LINK) screen prompt is actually there to alert you when your beacon experiences EXTERNAL interference from an electrical, metallic or magnetic object.  My friend, Steve Achelis of www.Beaconreviews.com , knows his stuff and remarked that they were way up on Mt Rainier where there should not have been any interference, and that none of the other group members had a problem.
My last response was “OH--last thing I thought of, a lot of people get this from a metallic foil wrapper (powerbar or the like) or electronic gizmo in the chest pocket of their jacket (right on top of beacon)....” 
Photo: Jonathan Shefftz/www.Beaconreviews.com

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Svalbard Sail/Ski 2014

Today, I repair the core shot from the only rock I hit in Svalbard, Norway during the last week of May. I was lucky enough to accompany 5 good friends and clients to Svalbard, Norway on the Aliega, a 65 foot sailboat based in Svalbard, Norway.

The beautiful Aleiga in Krossfjorden, PC: Ron Kase

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Element Barryvox wins Gear of the Year award from Backcountry Skiing Canada

Every once in a while we're not above some shameless self-promotion!  It is nice to be recognized though, and we appreciate the work they put into running our products through their paces.  Check out the Element Barryvox Product Review here:  CLICK THIS LINK


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Service Bulletin for Inspection of Mammut and Snowpulse Avalanche Airbags

Inspections have shown that there is a possible assembly problem


affecting individual Mammut and Snowpulse avalanche airbags from the Winter


2011/2012 and Winter 2012/2013 production seasons. The problem is an improperly

screwed in connector between the deployment mechanism and the venturi valve.
Since Mammut cannot rule out that this problem could result in a loss of function in the event

of use, we hereby request that all customers inspect the connection in accordance with the

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tech Tips: Creating a "mental map" during multiple burial searches

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a group training with Mammut Snow Safety technical rep Doug Workman where we spent a morning practicing some of the advanced functions of the Pulse Barryvox transceiver.  Generally, this beacon allows either single or multiple burial searches to be accomplished extremely quickly and easily.  However, when a searcher confronted with a close proximity multiple burial runs into the problem of signal overlap, as with any digital beacon, things fall apart--when overlapping signals are present digital beacons struggle to differentiate the signals. In such instances, searchers need to recognize what is going on and revert to a backup method to conduct the search. 

Mammut Snow Safety Tech Rep Doug Workman demonstrating a Micro-Search Box. Photo: Steve Lloyd

One of the most fundamental things I took away from the session was the importance of the "mental map" that a searcher can use during a multiple burial search by integrating analog information into a typical digital search.  By "mental map", I mean that as you progress through a search, you can quickly and easily form a mental picture of not only how many burials you are dealing with but also where each of them is relative to each other.  Why is this important?  Because this "mental map" allows a searcher to see and react to signal overlap problems AS THEY HAPPEN, rather than realizing what's going on after a problem occurs.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mammut You Tube Instructional Videos

If you own or use any of Mammut's avalanche safety products, you should become familiar with Mammut's You Tube channel, which is full of many instructional videos: Mammut Avalanche Safety You Tube.



Today, I would like to highlight the videos which demonstrate the proper use, re-packaging, and removal of the Protection Airbag System (PAS) and Removable Airbag Systems (RAS).

If you already own or are thinking of purchasing a Mammut PAS or RAS airbag, please watch these short videos to ensure proper use of your airbag system.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

New Year's Deep Slab Avalanche Cycle--Jackson Hole

Deep slab instability has been a widespread plague this winter throughout North America. Jackson Hole has not been immune. Currently, in the Snake River Range, a deep faceted layer up to 80 centimeters thick sits at the ground topped with an 80-100 centimeter hard slab. These slabs are quite strong and can support the weight of many skiers. However, if a thin spot is found, or if a heavier load is applied (like a snowmachine), the results are dramatic. Today (1/18/14), a week after the storm cleared out,  a snowmachiner triggered a deep, hard slab in the Palisades. This persistent weak layer will not go away quickly.

Below are photos from the last week's avalanche cycle in the Snake River Range in Wyoming and the Palisades in Eastern Idaho.

HS-AE-R3D3-O triggered on 1/14//14 with explosives, 
South Bowl of New Year's Bowl in South Fall Creek, Snake River Range

High Mountain Heli-Ski Guide Dave Fett at the 100cm crown on New Years's Bowl

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Introducing Avalanche Forecaster and Guide Karl Klassen

If you are not familiar with the name Karl Klassen, you should be. Klassen is the Chief Avalanche Forecaster at the Canadian Avalanche Center, an IFMGA guide, and the Guide Manager at Monashee Powder Snowcats. Klassen's papers and presentations are always on the top of my list of "must see" events at the bi-annual International Snow Science Workshop. Recently, Karl helped develop the "Avalanche Problems" system of communicating avalanche hazard in forecasts--a system quickly adopted across North America that has made forecasts easier to understand and decision making in the field more focused.

Karl recently wrote a post on the Canadian Avalanche Forecaster's blog that is a worthy read for professionals and recreationalists alike. In summary, North America is dealing with a very "Continental" snowpack this year that should have serious implications on the way we all make decisions. So, whether you ski in Western Canada, California, or Colorado, please give his recent post a read.

One of These Years is Not Like the Other

On another note, Klassen's guide's at Monashee Powder Snowcats are loyal users of the PULSE beacon. They have done extensive testing of the new 4.0 "Intelligent Search" and have found it useful for guests at their operation.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A little shout-out from our friends at Northern Escape Heli

I hate to toot our own horn, but sometimes it's just gotta be done!  We recently saw this article from our friends at Northern Escape Heli (NEH) detailing the Pulse Barryvox Avalanche Transciever.  For those who aren't familiar with them, NEH runs guided heli and snowcat trips near Terrace, BC.

Personally, watching the guides at an operator of this level work as a team to manage the safety of groups of clients is pretty amazing.

Friday, December 6, 2013

TECH TIPS: Perfecting Intelligent Search 4.0.


In the past several years, digital beacon technology has come a long way. At this point, even a first time user can usually perform a COARSE SEARCH for a single buried companion in a very short amount of time.

However, the FINE SEARCH still has a tendency to befuddle all but the most practiced users. Common errors include failing to check all four sides of the grid, erratically waving the beacon, and moving from standing to kneeling positions.

PULSE 4.0 Intelligent Search (labeled "assisted" in the settings) provides a fast, accurate, and efficient assisted FINE SEARCH which makes it much more difficult to fall into one of the aforementioned traps. In fact, it performs so well, that I believe professionals will also find the new update to be of great use.



There are, however, some guidelines to using Intelligent Search properly.