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Avalanche Beacon- Take some time to become familiar or reacquainted with your beacon and it’s functionality. I would recommend borrowing another beacon or two and hiding it inside or outside the house to ensure your understanding of how the beacon works for finding a single burial and multiple burial.

Once you have an understanding of the functionality it’s time to work on some practical training. Next time you’re around snow have someone bury their beacon in a bag or go to a local beacon park that already has multiple transceivers buried. Practice both solo and group searching and treat it just like you would in a real incident.

Yell out avalanche, watch the rider who may be caught in the slide. Doing so will notify others and allow you to know where they were last seen. Screen shot 2015-01-23 at 9.54.07 PMKnowing where they were can shorten your search area. Pull out your beacon and ensure all parties switch their beacons to search mode. Failure to do so will result in your group picking up the wrong signals.

Determine how safe the slope is, will you create another slide? Can you get on the avalanche bed surface? Is there hang fire (snow that did not release with the avalanche)? Should everyone expose themselves to a secondary slide? Once these things are discussed quickly and safely move to the beginning of the debris field or just above the last place the victim was seen. Begin an S shaped searching pattern while heading down hill.

Many beacons have a range of roughly 40m but it’s recommended that searchers are no more than 30m from the edge of the debris or from other searchers to allow for some overlap. While moving down hill look for signs of the victim. This could be a glove, a ski, or the person partially buried. Do not stop your beacon search and head for a glove or ski unless you are absolutely sure there is only one victim and you can physically see the person. The last thing you want is to discover an empty glove and have to head back uphill to find the victim.

Once you get a signal and get within 5m or so remove your skis/board so you can pinpoint the location. If there are multiple people searching this is the best time for them to pull out their probes and shovels while you are pinpointing the location. Communicating and working together will save time and time means life.

BCA is a great resource for educational material. Here is a video and flyer pertaining to beacon searches.


Colin Balke is a content editor for who lives in Northern California. When not plucking away on a keyboard, he can be found splitboarding, camping, backpacking, or hanging out with family and friends.

Home Forums Avalanche Preparedness – Avalanche Beacon Search 101

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    Avalanche Beacon- Take some time to become familiar or reacquainted with your beacon and it’s functionality. I would recommend borrowing another beaco
    Article Link: Avalanche Preparedness – Avalanche Beacon Search 101


    Important post. Beacons are so easy to use these days and I regularly see folks who clearly haven’t practiced enough.

    It’s cool BCA puts a good deal of emphasis on education.


    @dishwasher-dave Thanks! It was a good review for me just thinking about it and putting it down. BCA has some cool links to studies as well. I try to check their education page out every so often.

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