Snow Camping and the Avalanche Transceiver

If you’re somebody who loves activities such as camping, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and skiing during the snowy winters, one of the most important pieces of equipment you should carry is an avalanche transceiver, which is also called an avalanche beacon. This electronic device could mean the difference between life and death if you ever get caught in an avalanche.

snow campingHowever, just because you’re wearing an avalanche transceiver it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the proper precautions. The transceiver should basically be viewed as a last resort and all other safety measures should be followed at all times.

An avalanche transceiver is made to be worn on your body and it emits a signal. If you happen to be lost or buried under snow the transceivers that your traveling companions are wearing will pick up the signal from underneath the snow.

The transceivers that are receiving the signal will show an audible and visual display and it will guide the wearer towards the transmitting transceiver.

The signals are electromagnetic in nature. One mode sends the signals and another mode will receive them. Everybody in the camping/hiking party should be outfitted with a receiver and set to one of the modes.

You can strap the device around your waist and over the shoulder and wear it beneath your outer shell of clothing. If anybody needs help, the other members of the party will need to set their modes to receive to pick up the signal.

An avalanche can be deadly because you can die from trauma or asphyxiation when buried beneath the heavy weight of snow. But even though they’re highly effective, a transceiver is no guarantee. The best way to stay safe is to recognize potential avalanche conditions and make sure you avoid them.

There are different types of avalanche transceivers to choose from. They all transmit and receive their electronic signals the same way. But they differ when it comes to processing or interpreting the signals.

A digital transceiver uses several antennas along with a microprocessor when translating the signals into a visual display and beeping tone. This shows up on an LED or LCD display panel which shows the direction and the distance of the receiver that’s transmitting the signals. The audible signal will change as you get closer to the transmitting receiver.

An analog transceiver works by giving off audible beeps which become louder as you get closer to the buried transmitting transceiver. Some analog models also come with a visual indicator. A visual indicator is considered to be better because it’s sometimes hard to detect sound changes in volume if you’re out in a windy area and if there are several buried transceivers.