Monday, October 12, 2015

Advanced Review: Micro Search Box and Micro Search Strips

This past weekend, I attended the Colorado Snow and Avalanche Workshop in Breckenridge, Colorado. Among the many excellent presentations at the CSAW, Pascal Haegli presented his research on avalanche airbags which clearly shows the performance of airbags in avalanches. A summary of this research can be found on our blog here (link)

While in Colorado, I had the opportunity to spend a day training with Loveland Ski Patrol and Powder Addiction Snowcats who use fleets of PULSE beacons. We reviewed advanced rescue techniques including: How to Build a Mental Map, Micro Search-Box, and Micro-Search Strip.

For all of us, this day was a excellent opportunity to brush up on our beacon skills--especially the skills that are required to solve even the most complicated searches. We have covered these topics in past blog posts (Tips for Advanced Rescuer (link) and Creating a Mental Map (link)). Be sure to revisit these posts to review these skills as well as many other helpful hints for advanced users.

For advanced users, Mammut has taught for many years that the best way to solve 100% of multiple burial situations--searches that may suffer from overlapping beacon signals--involves using digital and analog signals at the same time. This allows the searcher to build a mental map that clearly shows when signals are being hidden by overlap.  The analog tones and tone-checks as described in the links above are the tool used to positively identify when the digital marking capability of the beacon has failed due to signal overlap.

When signal overlap is identified, it is best to revert to ANALOG ONLY and use one of two backup, or alternate search strategies, depending on the spacing of the buried subjects (which is determined during your TONE CHECKS). All digital beacons require the use of a similar alternate search strategy to deal with this situation. With a Pulse Barryvox, if you are struggling with a close proximity situation, the Micro Search Box is the appropriate backup strategy. When victims are more widely spaced (more than 3 meters apart) the Micro-Search Strip is the most appropriate strategy.

John Gibbons, of Powder Addiction Snowcats, made me aware of this video (link) of Manuel Genswein demonstrating, as well as this video showing "Micro-Search Strip and micro box."   So, if you are brushing up on your beacon skills--which many of us are around now--be sure to watch these videos.

If you still have questions after you watch the video, do not hesitate to contact us at


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