Practicing using your avalanche beacon in the field usually su*ks.
Obviously, you’d rather be skiing in all that snow. That’s why you’re out in the powder covered mountains with ski gear, ski clothes, and partners in the first place. So there you are, shivering your way through a session, thinking that you should have worn a thicker layer or two for beacon practice day. ‘Practicing’ sure seems to involve a lot of standing around for those who aren’t actively learning to search. Even when your time comes, you walk and search kinda slowly and methodically. It doesn’t really warm you up.
Not only are you cold, but when it’s your turn to search, you’ve got to dig and claw through freezing snow. This only adds to the sense of discomfort. Meanwhile, you catch a glimpse of clear blue sky and wonder if you couldn’t put avy beacon practice day off until a “tomorrow” that never comes. But you’ve already done that a hundred times…
‘Yes, we have to do this,’ your silent, inner ski partner insists. As mentioned in part 1, beacon practice is essential to backcountry skiing survival. Because when that fateful avalanche moment arrives, you’ve got to know exactly what you’re doing, as if it’s happened before. As if you’ve trained for it.
But does avalanche beacon practice have to happen only in winter, in snow, in the freezing cold? I’ve wondered about that in a chilled state while practicing, on numerous occasions. This year, I decided to try out an idea. Dry land avalanche beacon practice. In sunshine. In moderate temperature, where a sense of being chilled wouldn’t affect our interest in participating. Where we wouldn’t go home after two rounds of search practice.
Idea in hand, I roped Continue reading ‘Avalanche Beacon Practice (part 2)’