The Dennis Kirk Blog
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Pushing your sled to its limits up the side of mountain is a thrill that just cannot be matched by anything else. When you reach the summit, you know that you persevered with everything working against you, especially gravity. But it’s the times that gravity wins that can provide a rush that you never want to feel. When the base gives out and you or a friend get caught in an avalanche, your actions need to be quick and calculated.
Surviving being buried in an avalanche without the proper gear is like trying to scuba dive without an air tank and flippers. Without the right gear, your odds of blindly being found in time are not very high. That’s a risk that many riders take on unprepared, thinking that it won’t happen to them. But with the wide range of equipment available now, it’s so easy to arm yourself with equipment you need to get out alive.
Pieps has become a leader in avalanche survival equipment and continually work to improve the survival rate of riders who get buried. Their lines of beacons, probes and air bags all work together in a system to save you or your fellow riders in the event of a slide. Being equipped with these items can significantly increase your chances of getting out of the slide and live to ride another day.
Possibly the most effective tool for avalanche rescues is a beacon. When all the members of your riding group are equipped with avalanche beacons, the chances of recovery skyrocket. The beacons can be used both to send a signal out if you are buried and also to find that signal by the rescuers. In the event that someone is completely submerged in the snow, there can be little to no sign of where they ended up in the slide. A beacon is the best way for rescuers to zero in on the location.
The Pieps Beacons have come to be known as some of the most accurate and dependable, which is crucial when time is so valuable. Equipped with three antennas, the beacons are able to have a wide signal radius to help rescuers pick up a signal much faster. With directional and distance indicators, pinpointing the location is made easier. Another nice feature is the mark and scan function, which allows you to better find multiple buried riders. They also incorporate a self-check function to ensure that the antennas are working like they are supposed to and can account for wayward signals.
Pieps also offers a mini transmitter that you can place on your snowmobile. The mini operates on a different frequency so that it will not interfere with a search and rescue operation. But once everyone is out safe, the frequency can be picked up by your other Pieps beacons so that you can find your snowmobile and get to safety faster.
Jetforce Avalanche Airbag
With the huge force that an avalanche can bear down on you, having all the bells and whistles at your disposal is critical. Avalanche airbags may seem like overkill by some, but their benefits are really hard to deny. Once an airbag has been deployed, it will make it easier for you to stay afloat in the rushing snow and will help protect you from any hard debris passing you by. If you do happen to be buried, the airbag can be deflated to leave a pocket of air and space for you to maneuver
The Pieps Jetforce Airbag is unique in that it is inflated with a battery-powered fan instead of an air bottle. The fan can fully inflate the airbag in 3 seconds and will continue to keep it inflated for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, the airbag will automatically deflate, which will leave a large air pocket for you to breathe and move in if you are buried. It can also be deployed multiple times in the event of multiple slides. It can be repacked very easily, which combined with the multiple deployments, makes practicing with the Jetforce Airbags easy to do.
The beacons can get you really close to where your buried riding partner is, but not exact. Avalanche probes allow you to dissect an area quickly to find the exact location of the person. Once you locate someone with a probe, you can know exactly where to start digging instead of wasting time in an area where the person may not be.
The Pieps iProbe One makes the discovery process even more definitive. With a normal probe you may falsely identify another solid object as a person and waste time digging it out. The iProbe One has a built in beacon that recognizes the radio frequency of an avalanche beacon. It includes an optical and acoustic target indicator to let you know if you are getting closer or further away from the buried person’s beacon. The iProbe One will deactivate the Pieps beacon once it has been pinpointed, which is helpful in situations where there are more than one rider buried with a Pieps beacon.
Once you find your buried fellow riders, you’re going to want to get them out as fast as you safely can because you won’t know if they have been injured or if they have enough oxygen. Having a shovel with allows you to move snow fast and efficiently, which is crucial when every second matters. The Pieps snow shovel collapses down nicely for travel, yet is sturdy for moving snow efficiently. It can be used in two different configurations; as a shovel or as a hoe.
Each piece in the Pieps equipment lineup can aid in avalanche survival. It’s when they are all used in a system that makes them extremely efficient, though. When time is not on your side, having all the right tools can make a significant difference in your chance of survival. Riding in remote areas is exhilarating, but make sure you are prepared to deal with the consequences that it can present.