avalanche equipment

What equipment is useful?

The best strategy for surviving an avalanche is to avoid being caught in one. All backcountry skiers, boarders, and snowshoers should be trained in avalanche awareness and should be knowledgeable about the conditions and terrain they're entering.


On Tuesday, officials confirmed two Alberta snowmobilers died Monday in an avalanche near an unnamed peak about 30 kilometres southwest of Blue River....


avalanche transceivers

Avalanche transceivers (beacons) are designed to help a rescuer to locate a buried victim in the least amount of time possible. Transceivers both transmit and receive a signal at a frequency of 457kHz. (Older 2.275kHz beacons are obsolete and should be discarded).

There are two types, analoge and digital. Neither type of beacon is inherently “better”, if you're buying a beacon, try out several models and select the one that you find easiest and most intuitive to use. More important than the type of beacon you own is your ability to use it.


The only way to penetrate dense, compacted avalanche debris is to use a multi-sectioned aluminium pole called an avalanche probe. When a searcher with a beacon has honed in on a buried person, other members of the party should probe the snowpack for the exact location of the victim The probe is left in contact with the victim until they have been exposed by shovelling.

Probes also have other uses, such as checking snowpack depth, and testing crevasse bridges and cornices while travelling. For this reason, they are currently carried by most travellers and are recommended over probe poles.


Finding the location of a victim is only the first part of the rescue – digging them out is the second critical step. In the seconds after an avalanche, even fresh powder will solidify so densely that you cannot push your hand into it

There are many different types of avalanche shovels. The more high-tech models have telescoping handles that extend to give better leverage when shovelling. Metal blades chop debris better than lexan or polycarbonate, and the bigger the blade, the more snow you can move with each scoop. The important thing about shovels is that everybody in your group has one.