Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
builder206

need avy gear advice

Recommended Posts

I need a shovel, a probe, and a 457kHz transceiver. Any pointers, tricks of the trade, features I need to look for or avoid? Thanks.

 

By the way, that's a SNOW shovel and an AVALANCHE probe.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All beacons are now 457khz. If you're new to snow safety gear and how to use it, get a DTS Tracker. They are the most fool-proof. Other beacons certainly have more features (i.e. triage capabilities, flagging multiple beacon signals, LCD screens showing relative locations) but you need to get a solid technique before any of that other crap makes a difference. Spend your time at first getting good at single burials before you mess with all the other crap.

 

Get any metal collapsible shovel. The plastic ones suck for digging in hard snow. If you are going to dig pits a lot, or want to get your buddy out faster, get the biggest shovel you can find. I have a tea-spoon for spring/fall and a backhoe for winter conditions.

 

Most avalanche burials are within the top 4.5 feet of debris. So most probes will work fine. I got a longer one (320cm) because I like to be able to see how deep the snowpack is. And because the longer ones are more burly and don't deflect as easy in hard debris. Play with a couple in the store and see which one's are most intuitive for you to use. Same goes for beacons. I think the Trackers are easiest, but something else may make more sense to you.

 

If it's one or the other, pay for a class before you get all the stuff and run out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your quick reply. I'm asking because I am going to take a class soon and was hoping to get my gear cheap online. I need to order early to allow for shipping time. Maybe I should just wait.

 

Yes, I'm new to snow safety. I didn't even know that all transceivers were 457kHz.

 

Other folks also have told me to avoid plastic blades. At Feathered Friends' gear night, Petzl had a plastic shovel with a metal edge. I wonder if the edge will detach with use? I will go with an all-metal blade.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll second the big-blade shovel. They're big to carry, but do you want to dig someone out with a teaspoon, or a snowshovel? I've seen the plastic ones break. The longer telescoping handles are good, too. And the D-grip is easier to handle than the T-grip.

Edited by lizard_brain

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last year Marmot Mountain was renting DTS Trackers, so you could rent one for your class and buy it later if you like it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The metal shovel has multiple purposes. I know a team who lost their cooking pot high on Denali, in a wind gust, and used their metal shovel to melt water. Not a good situation to be in, worse if you had a plastic shovel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm asking because I am going to take a class soon and was hoping to get my gear cheap online. I need to order early to allow for shipping time. Maybe I should just wait.
If you can, I'd suggest renting/borrowing gear for your avy class. During the class you'll get to see, and hopefully work with, a good cross section of the probes, shovels & beacons that are available. You'll be in a better position to buy once you've got some hands on experience.

 

Some buying tips:

- As the others said, get a metal shovel.

- Avoid ski poles that convert to probes or probes that store in shovel handles. They waste time setting up, don't work very well, and aren't as long as a proper probe.

- A good rule of thumb when contemplating avy gear (especially when it's on sale) is to ask yourself "Would I want my partner(s) to be using this to rescue me?".

 

Don't be afraid to buy a used shovel or probe, you'll save some cash and it's easy to tell if they've been abused or not. A lot of folks are hesitant to buy a used beacon 'cause it's hard to know if they are working 100% unless you can do some testing.

 

Personally, I carry a G3 Avi-Tech shovel, a G3 320cm probe and a Pieps DSP beacon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Backcounty Access (BCA- makers of the Tracker) has some great information on how to effectively dig someone out. They seem to recommend a medium sized shovel, blade and handle depending on your fitness and strength. A big guy can wield a big shovel whereas a little guy like me might do better with a smaller blade. The shortish handle works better in the tight confines of a deep burial and the digger is able to go for longer with a smaller than giant blade. Many small chunks goes faster than taking big chunks. Avy debris is really hard and dense.

 

The angle of the handle is something to consider as well. If you think you'll be digging a lot of snow caves a straighter handle might be better.

 

I agree that the Tracker is the most user friendly even though it's somewhat dated at this point. I just bought a used analog beacon but am interested in the Tracker 2. They were planning on releasing it this fall but it looks like they need to work out a few more bugs. I saw a French video that showed a demo unit in action and it looked fast and intuitive.

 

The advantage of the new digital models (Pieps DSP, Barryvox Pulse, Ortovox S1 ect.) is that they use 3 antennae instead of 2 and give a true distance measurement when withing about 3m (it's hard to explain). They also have algorithms for dealing with multiple burials.

 

If you're willing to practice the analog beacons are fine and in fact have the best range and people are selling them off like hotcakes to get the new digitals. It may be best to rent a beacon. If the people in your course have a bunch of different beacons you might take a shining to one of them.

 

As for probes I've read recommendations to avoid the thin ones that stow in the shovel handle and that an over sized point is nice. I went with the G3 320cm sans markings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a digital beacon is worth the extra money. They are easier to use, and that's what counts in an emergency. I have the Barryvox beacon (the original) and love it. The harness it comes in is simple (unlike the old tracker), comfortable and the overal unit is much smaller than other beacons. The barryvox has a "stupid simple" digital mode, but also has advanced options like view digital on the screen and hear analog in beeps. That said, I haven't paid attention to beacon advances over the past few years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think a digital beacon is worth the extra money. They are easier to use, and that's what counts in an emergency. I have the Barryvox beacon (the original) and love it. The harness it comes in is simple (unlike the old tracker), comfortable and the overal unit is much smaller than other beacons. The barryvox has a "stupid simple" digital mode, but also has advanced options like view digital on the screen and hear analog in beeps. That said, I haven't paid attention to beacon advances over the past few years.

 

Second vote for the Barryvox....simple to use in Digital mode - very similar to the BCA, but as you grow in your experience, there will be a lot of more advanced features available including an extended range analog search. It's also smaller and lighter than the BCA.

 

You don't want to fuss with coverting your ski poles to a probe in an emergency situation, but I wouldn't totally discard idea of a probe that goes in your shovel handle. It makes it less likely to get lost/forgotten, and chances are anyone buried deeper than can be reached with one of these is beyond help.

Edited by ericb

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A moderate sized shovel blade with an extendible handle of your preference (I don't like D handles, big hands :D ). A bigass grainscoop will be a liability, not a help. I have a BCAccess Traverse EXT. It's nice. G3 and Black Diamond also make nice shovels.

 

A dedicated probe. Ski poles that convert will take time in a rescue, so will fiddling with some POS probe that fits in the shovel handle. I have a 300cm BD with markings (nice for pitwork)

 

A beacon that works for you. I have a Pieps DSP. I like it. The Barryvox Opto3000 is nice as is the Tracker. Not a big fan of the Barryvox Pulse or Ortovox S1. Most of the added features on them is lost for the recreational skier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

look at cascade toboggan they have some great packages and they sell Voile shovels and probes with the new PIEPS transiever. That is what I have and I love the whole set up...it is all bomber stuff!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any of the newer beacons will be able to pinpoint a buried victim to within a couple of feet, making the extra probing step unnecessary. The exception is when the victim is buried really deep (6+ ft). This situation is usually a body recovery, unfortunately.

 

I just posted a good article on how to shovel out a buried victim quickly on the Freshiezone forum. Check it out.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Any of the newer beacons will be able to pinpoint a buried victim to within a couple of feet, making the extra probing step unnecessary. The exception is when the victim is buried really deep (6+ ft). This situation is usually a body recovery, unfortunately.

Unless they have an Avalung.

 

Probing is a good idea for beacons with less than 3 antennae to be sure that you aren't fooled by the signal spikes IMO. It can also give them somewhat of an air hole and lets them know your on your way. Oh yeah and it gives a depth and location reference while digging. I guess I'm in favour of probing.

 

I read a report where the guy said he was never so happy to get poked in the teeth with a probe.

:poke:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A moderate sized shovel blade with an extendible handle of your preference (I don't like D handles, big hands :D ). A bigass grainscoop will be a liability, not a help. I have a BCAccess Traverse EXT. It's nice. G3 and Black Diamond also make nice shovels.

 

I've had 2 BCA Traverse shovels fail, and have a partner that has had 1 fail. All failures were at the junction of the blade with the hosel (not sure if that's the correct term, but we'll borrow it from the golfing world. I have found the Voile shovels to be da shit, especially the T6 blade. Just my $0.02

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2 traverse shovels fail. wow. I have had the same one for 3 years and no issues.

 

I have the Barryvox beacon (the original) and I also like it. Small works great. The new pulse beacons are great but the pulse feature only works if the person you are looking for has a barryvox as well. I would not purchase it for that feature but rather the 3 antennae.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've had 2 BCA Traverse shovels fail, and have a partner that has had 1 fail. All failures were at the junction of the blade with the hosel (not sure if that's the correct term, but we'll borrow it from the golfing world. I have found the Voile shovels to be da shit, especially the T6 blade. Just my $0.02

 

I've seen a Voile shovel fail at the same joint and had a Life-Link fail at the same joint. All from improper usage. Just my $0.02

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've had 2 BCA Traverse shovels fail, and have a partner that has had 1 fail. All failures were at the junction of the blade with the hosel (not sure if that's the correct term, but we'll borrow it from the golfing world. I have found the Voile shovels to be da shit, especially the T6 blade. Just my $0.02

 

I've seen a Voile shovel fail at the same joint and had a Life-Link fail at the same joint. All from improper usage. Just my $0.02

 

Not sure what the improper usage is that you are referring to, but I have put my Voile through the exact same usage as the BCA's without the slightest hint of failing, but it is a T6 blade

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
but it is a T6 blade

 

Ugh. 6061 series vs. 6061 T6. The "T6" Voile XLM I had was a piece of shit. So are you a Mechanical Engineer or a Moron? Is there a difference between the two?

 

Ugh. Avalanche stupidity. Like Herpes flare ups.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ugh. 6061 series vs. 6061 T6. The "T6" Voile XLM I had was a piece of shit.

 

Yes, Hugh, there is a difference. As with many things it is common to take advantage of consumers. "T6" refers to tha manner in which the material is heat treated. The 6061 refers to the specific alloy of aluminum. It is possible to have a 6064 T6, or a 7071 T6, or a 4034 T6. Any of them would be technically a "T6" Differant alloys react in various ways to heat treatment some not at all.

 

Of course this doesn't rule out operator error. :/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes, Hugh, there is a difference. As with many things it is common to take advantage of consumers. "T6" refers to tha manner in which the material is heat treated. The 6061 refers to the specific alloy of aluminum. It is possible to have a 6064 T6, or a 7071 T6, or a 4034 T6. Any of them would be technically a "T6" Differant alloys react in various ways to heat treatment some not at all.

 

I am aware of the differences. The BCAccess shovel is 6061 series, the Voile 6061 T6. Assuming the BC shovel is 6061-0 that's something like a ~2x difference in tensile strength. Of course the BCAccess shovel could well be 6061-T6.

 

And then there's no difference. Which is why depending on marketing for the material properties is retarded.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All this talk about shovels failing: I wonder if people have been levering on the shovels? You know, jamming the shovel in then levering down on the handle trying to prize out a mass o' snow. 1/4" structural steel could stand up to that. Not sure if aluminum backcountry res-q shovels would.

 

Just a thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×