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.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Understanding Your Avalanche Forecast

Avalanche Forecasters have a difficult job--they do not simply need to understand the specific stability issues in their respective regions, some of which are very large and variable, they also need to communicate that hazard to the public. In an effort to simplify the message to the public, many forecast centers in North America have adopted the "Avalanche Problems" model, which has proven to be a direct and clear method of communicating the heart of the matter.

Mountain Guide, Canadian Avalanche Forecaster, and AIARE founder Karl Klassen presented the relatively new Avalanche Problems concept at this year's ISSW in Grenoble and again at the Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop (USAW) in Salt Lake City. The Canadians have developed a clean, icon-based system which aims to categorize avalanche hazards into 8 problems. A concise summary of the 8 Avalanche Problems used by the Canadian Avalanche Association can be found here:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Antarctica Peninsula Ski Expedition 2013

From November 5-16 of 2013, Mammut ambassadors Doug Workman and Todd Offenbacher embarked on an Antarctic Peninsula ski-mountaineering expedition organized by Doug Stoup's Ice Axe Expeditions. Expedition Leader Stoup has visited the Antarctic Peninsula more than any other explorer alive. His intimate knowledge of the region makes him an authority on ski mountaineering on the Antarctic Peninsula--and the perfect leader to wrangle 22 mountain guides and there clients on one expedition ship. Respectively, this was Offenbacher's second and Workman's fourth expedition to the Peninsula.

The Sea Adventurer's route on the west coast
 of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands.

Friday, November 1, 2013

New Barryvox Service Software available for download

The new Barryvox Service Software is now available for download on the "knowhow" section of the Mammut website.  The service software installs on a PC, and in combination with a W-Link Adaptor or Tester allows installing beacon firmware updates as well as configuring beacon settings or performing diagnostic and simultaneous fleet-management functions on all Barryvox Avalanche Transceivers.   To download the new service software version 3.4

Monday, October 28, 2013

Early Season Gear Check

Snow has begun to fall to accumulate in North America's mountains. It is time to begin checking your kit to make sure you are ready to ride.

In this post we will review the necessary steps to check you beacon and airbag to ensure proper performance from your safety equipment.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

CAA Issues Warning: Your Smartphone is NOT a Beacon

The Canadian Avalanche Center has published a paper which serves as a warning about the inadequacy of smartphone beacon apps. While I applaud any competition in the market which can create competition and drive innovation, these creations only threaten to create a dangerous situation for uninformed users.

Check out the video below to see a demo of the SNOG app.

Below is the full report from the CAA:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mammut Supports Avalanche Safety Workshops

This Fall the Mammut North American Avalanche Safety Team has been busy attending regional avalanche safety workshops in Leadville, Colorado (CSAW), Whitefish, Montana (NRSAW) and most recently, the International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW) in Grenoble, France.

Both the ISSW and the regional workshops offer members of both the professional and recreational snow communities opportunities to catch up on cutting edge avalanche science and the practical applications gleaned from the scientific community. The workshops also offer people an opportunity to reconnect with other members of the community and dust off their avalanche thinking caps.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

NEW Pulse 4.0 Firmware Update: "Intelligent Search"

A new, optional, update is available for the Mammut PULSE Barryvox that will greatly optimize efficiency in the Fine Search mode. The goal of the update is to ensure that users have properly found the lowest point in the grid before probing. 

Check out the attached video as it explains it quite well:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Norway 2013: Sailboat Assisted Ski Mountaineering

Over the last 10 days of May, Mammut ambassador Todd Offenbacher joined Doug Stoup of Ice Axe Expeditions on an exploratory ski trip to Spitsbergen--on the northern coast of Norway--and to the northern island of Svalbard. The group sailed the coast in search of couloirs and they found many first descents and ski to sea ocean runs.

Todd on a classic ski to sea first descent. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Ski Belay: A Necessary Evil

It sucks to ski on belay. It just does. But, it is sometimes "impossible" to ski a big peak in the Tetons that does not require a bit of "jiggery-pokery." A full arsenal of ropes, carabiners, ice screws, and pitons are required to descend many of Wyoming's big one's--even for the best ski-mountaineers out there. While continuous descents do exist--like the East Face of the Middle Teton or the Amora Vida on the South Teton--no one has ever been able to get the Grand Teton clean.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Photo Journal: Iceland--Sailing, Skiing, and Flying 2013

This May, after ten weeks on Thompson Pass working with Mammut partner Valdez Heli-Ski Guides, I flew to Reykjavik, Iceland with six good friends and clients for an amazing adventure in Iceland's Western Fjords and Troll Peninsula.

The Northern coast of Iceland offers incredibly accessible skiing opportunities by foot, sail, or helicopter--we opted for all forms.

The small village of Isafjordur

Thursday, May 9, 2013

3-year service reminder for users of Barryvox Testers

Maintenance Service for your Barryvox Tester
The following document gives a short overview about the Maintenance Service recommendations for the Barryvox Tester, which is a fleet-management tool used by organizations who maintain a large fleet of Pulse Barryvox or Element Barryvox beacons.  This does NOT apply to the w-link adaptor fleet management and firmware update tool, only the full tester. 

Every three [3] years a maintenance check for the product is required to guarantee all necessary
settings in the device, such as the antenna setup and calibration.  You will find the next maintenance date in the upper left corner of a test report under “test system”. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thanks! From Valdez Heli-Ski Guides.

The 2013 season at Valdez Heli-Ski Guides is in full swing and we would like to thank Mammut North America for their continued partnership and support.

Operating out of the Tsaina Lodge on Thompson Pass, VHSG is in our 20th season. Our guide staff has over 100 years of cumulative experience ski-guiding in this very mountain range--our guides, on average, have worked for us for 7-15 consecutive years. We specialize in big-mountain ski guiding but also enjoy and make use of the many miles of rolling glacial cruisers. Our Terrain Progression Program is intended to introduce big-mountain skiing to competent, life-long skiers who are looking for keys to these castles.

Triple Jeopardy, on Billy Mitchell, is an VHSG test-piece. 
Multiple groups accomplished this run this week
 after progressing through VHSG's Terrain Progression Program.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The real-world effectiveness of airbags

Bruce Tremper has written a great article on the Utah Avalanche Center blog about the "real-world" effectiveness of avalanche airbags.  "How effective is an avalanche airbag" is a question I get asked all the time at events and trade shows.  When Mammut began working with airbags a few years ago we were uncomfortable talking about the "97%" that was touted so much, so it's great to see Pascal Haegeli's work and this piece discuss the real-world effectiveness--which in my opinion is quite good!  As Bruce here says himself:  " So, it seems that in real-world experience, wearing an avalanche airbag will possibly save a little more than half of those who would have otherwise died.
At least from my perspective, saving half of avalanche fatalities is pretty darn good.  Avalanche airbags are the best technology we have seen come along including the beacon..." 

Check out the full article here:  Link to Utah Avalanche Center blog post

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sverre Liliequist - Swatch Skiers Cup 2013

Sverre Liliquist, Swedish extreme skier--and fan of Mammut RAS packs--does back-flip while avalanche roars behind him.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Available Fall 2013,  Pulse Firmware 4.0: "Assisted Fine Search and Probing Indication"

Beacon technology has evolved rapidly in the last ten years: digital transceivers, distance and direction displays, signal separation technology, marking capability, vital data...the list goes on. 

Meanwhile, rescuers have also become more aware of the importance of systematic probing (spiral shaped at 25cm increments, see image at right) and strategic shoveling.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Avalanche Victim Recovered Alive with Avalanche Transciever

Todd Glew, a ski guide, recently rescued a skier who was captured in an avalanche in the West Bowl of Silver Fork in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah.

The group estimated that the skier was buried under 4-5' of snow.

Link to Article

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Avalanche Report: Western Uinta's, Utah.

Craig Gordon from the Utah Avalanche Center describes the events leading up to the tragic deaths of 2 children in Utah last week.

It is a good reminder that even benign looking hillsides can be dangerous, especially if there are terrain traps below.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Avalanche Fatality: Raspberry Creek, Marble Colorado

Little information is available at this time but it is confirmed that someone was killed in the Raspberry Creek drainage outside of Marble Colorado on Sunday January 13, 2013. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center  had warned of "Moderate" (2/5) hazard.

Colorado, along with much of the Western United States, is suffering from deep slab instability due to the early winter drought in October, November, and early December.

According to the CAIC website:

The recent storm snow and the wind slabs are sitting above older persistent slabs in the middle of our snowpack. These persistent slabs are your main concern today. They are most problematic  on slopes facing northwest through east at all elevations. Depth hoar and faceted snow near the ground are the weak layers of concern. The weak layers are more widespread near  treeline. Lower elevation southerly aspects generally lack these deeper instabilities, and many lower elevation northerly slopes have a deteriorating and nonreactive slab. On these low elevation northerly aspects in many areas of the Aspen zone, loose snow avalanches are possible on steep slopes.

The CAIC's incident report can be found here:

Local news covered the accident here:

Our condolences to friends and family of the victim.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Avalanche Report: Close Call in Utah's West Porter

Avalanche Victim Recovered After Full Burial By Partner

Late Saturday afternoon a skier triggered an avalanche and was fully buried in the West Porter drainage of Millcreek just outside Salt Lake City. The skier lost her skis, poles, and one ski-boot. Given the time of day and the recent frigid temperatures, this obviously could have ended differently. However, the victim was recovered by her partner who was carrying the proper rescue gear and knew how to use it. The skiers were then assisted by another ski touring party who stumbled across the avalanche. The third party was able to assist in the jury-rigging of a boot and was able to provide direction to local search and rescue who transported the victim to a local hospital where she was treated for a head injury.

The Crown of the West Porter Avalanche 

A shout out needs to go out to the local skiers in the Wasatch who were prepared to assist another party in need and to the local Wasatch Backcountry Rescue ( of the finest mountain search and rescue outfits in the country.

If you have been skiing in the Wasatch or watching their snowpack in cyber-space, you know that there are persistent weak layers in their snowpack that need a lot of respect. Experienced parties are getting caught and buried! Skiers are also remotely triggered large avalanches throughout the area. (

Every area in North America has to deal with persistent weak layers in their snowpack from time to time (even California this year) and these problems are difficult to manage because of their unpredictability and their ability to behave outside of the norms--high crowns, remote triggers, avalanches on low angle slopes, etc.

Avalanche on Mt. Aire, remotely triggered from the ridgeline

At this point, the persistent problems in Utah's Wasatch Mountains are so well known and well documented, that the only thing that is very difficult is controlling your own urges if you are a skier there. As Utah Avalanche Center's Brett "Cowboy" Kobernick states in this morning's forecast: It is up to you to control your urge to ski the steep and deep.  He goes on to point out that,  Persistent weak layers are called that because they persist long after the new snow itself has stabilized. They pose the greatest threat to backcountry travelers and are responsible for almost all of the avalanche fatalities that occur in Utah.

Unpredictable, persistent, and responsible for most fatalities. Enough said. Maybe it is time to buy a plane ticket to Chamonix where they are having all-time deep, stable powder skiing?

The local news covered this accident here:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Conditions Report: Alyeska

Alaska, known for it's deep, maritime snowpack, is in the midst of a deep slab avalanche xyxle more commonly associated with Continental areas like Colorado. South-central Alaska suffered from a very dry October, November, and early December. A total of 80 inches of snow fell during early winter. These advanced facets were then quickly loaded with 190 inches of snow in late December/early January. Needless to say, things got sketchy fast--and they will be for some time to come. This Wednesday, a skier triggered a deep, large avalanche on Tincan, a popular run on Turnagain.

John Fitzgerald recently wrote a synopsis of this skier triggered avalanche on Tincan--a run often skied by those looking for somewhere "safe." It averaged 8-10' deep and ran nearly a 1/4 mile wide.

His report can be found here:

Deep slab instabilities are extremely unpredictable. Deep slabs also have the ability to break unpredictably higher than soft slabs which usually break at steep, convex rollovers--therefore, traditional start-zones and safe-zones do not necessarily apply. These avalanches tend to defy historical patterns, a complication that contributed to the death this year of a seasoned Alpine Meadows Ski Patrolman, Bill Foster. It was also a deep slab instability, due to similar weather conditions, that killed Jackson Hole Ski Patroller Mark "Big Wally" Wolling in January of 2010.

If you are skiing in Alaska right now, please read this post by Andy Dietrick from the Alyeska Ski Patrol:

The Alyeska Ski Patrol has posted a You Tube video showing the dramatic results at the ski area during avalanche hazard mitigation.

Adding to their complexity, deep slabs have the ability to lie dormant for long periods of time before being re-activated by rapid warming or heavy loading. As Fitzgerlad points out in his report:

Unfortunately, this problem will likely linger for a long time, with alternating periods of dormancy and reactivation. Other events like this are possible for the foreseeable future.

The best solution as a skier or rider is patience, which powder hounds are not famous for. Nonetheless, maritime areas like Alaska do usually heal with time. In my 10 years working for Valdez Heli-Ski Guides I have never seen a deep slab instability persist into March. I will certainly be hoping, for the sake of Alaskan locals, that is heals long before that, but it will be interesting to see.

Mammut PULSE wins Editor's Pick: "Much faster than Tracker 2"

Outdoor Gear Lab recently awarded the Mammut Pulse "Editor's Pick."

Notably, the testers found the Pulse to be the fastest beacon in both single companion rescue and multiple burial scenarios!

Outdoor Gear Lab states, This is our Editor's Choice winner because it got us to the victims the fastest. In multiple burial situations, the Pulse was much faster than the Tracker 2...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Airbag Cartridge Refill Instructions and Parts List and Diagram

A new detailed set of refill instructions is now available that should serve as an aid to both users and refill locations.  These instructions are very detailed in an effort to address common questions.  Instructions can be found here:  CLICK HERE FOR REFILL INSTRUCTIONS.

When talking about various parts on the airbag cartridges, it's a heck of a lot easier if we all use the same name for each part!  The link also has an exploded parts diagram.