Big thanks to Backcountry Access for sponsoring this avalanche education content. Check out the additional plethora of avalanche safety resources on their website.
All, while I was up in Aspen yesterday watching 3,467 filmed kicker tricks (I counted every one), below writing came over the transom from Marcus Peterson. For those of you who don’t know him, Marcus heads up the North American side of Ortovox. He’s knowledgable and outspoken.
I’ve known Marcus for decades. He’s supported myself and Wildsnow on and off for years, with gear and a recent dose of display advertising. But mostly I’ve enjoyed a professional friendship with him and have had some amazing conversations about the avalanche safety gear industry and what goes on behind the scenes. The following screed came in as a comment, but it’s too long for that format so we did a bit of editing and worked it into a guest blog. While we don’t make a habit of publishing “he said she said” industry guest blogs, when something beefy comes in we do consider placement, and Marcus made the cut.
How do all you WildSnow visitors feel about the importance of multiple burial in both rescue training and beacon design? Leave comments. Lou
Having read Christian Skalka’s Guest Blog I felt it necessary to respond to his comments regarding multiple versus single burials. It should be noted that entire first day at the International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW) in Whistler was given over to presentations from a variety of international experts from both North America and Europe regarding multiple versus single burial technique and technology. As Christian noted, Backcountry Access feels that single burial scenarios are what should be emphasized. We at Ortovox strongly disagree.
While simple single burial training scenarios may be a great way to get the educational process going, Ortovox feels that more complex multiple burial scenarios represent the greater challenge and the more deadly encounter and deserve serious attention during training – especially for the recreationist.
This is precisely why Ortovox devoted so much time, effort and resources into producing our S1 Sensor, a transceiver that can discriminate between the signals of multiple buried transceivers and can electronically “flag” victims once each individual has been pin-pointed. Since the S1 is engineered to be able to identify up to three buried units (including any mix of modern analog or digital 457kHz brands and models) at a given time it is obviously more than capable of quickly finding one buried victim. Even for novices.
The cold hard fact is that the bulk of avalanche safety equipment manufacturers worldwide (including Pieps, Barryvox, and of course, Ortovox) are diametrically opposed to BCA’s staunch single burial perspective.
Sure, the three key European manufacturer’s top units all work slightly differently in practice. However, the manufacturers all agree in this principle: solving multiple burial problems is where the focus should be.
In fact, at Ortovox, we would go so far as to say that with one of today’s highly advanced transceivers one should not even think in terms of single versus multiple burials. There are just burials. Your transceiver should be able to tell you whether there is one or more buried victims, and most importantly, where they are to be found. At this point, pushing single burial training at the expense of multiple burial training only introduces unnecessary confusion into the industry, avalanche education, and actual avalanche search and rescue work.
Ortovox does continues to offer a variety of transceivers including analog models, digital models, and analog/digital models that do not have our new digital compass and inclinometer scanner technology, advanced LCD screen or cutting edge software. There is still a market for these devices and they continue to sell very well as they are time tested, they offer lower price points, they can compliment our S1 in a guided situation, and because there are people who simply prefer them.
However, I want to state unequivocally that when it comes to Ortovox transceiver hardware and software design, and, “search and rescue” training efforts, for pros and weekenders alike, we will continue to vigorously support the multiple burial school of thought now and in the future.
In that spirit I’d like you to know that myself, our engineers, and our product manager Franz Kroll (the noted Austrian guide and guide examiner) are always available to explain our perspective and products.
General manager, Ortovox USA
(Lou: Though you do run a superb website and blog, and, do so much to help educate skiers, I think it would benefit WildSnow visitors if you presented more balance (i.e. differing opinions) in your reporting than what appeared in Skalka’s blog and in other posts on your website from last spring and winter. This will bring greater understanding to the topic and will also help to explain why manufacturers choose one path over another when it comes to the design and implementation of their tools. It also just makes for more interesting reading. Marcus)