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Avalanche transceivers for young kids ??

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
So I was chatting with one of our client families on Saturday. Parents are very experienced, competent off piste skiers. Kids are in the 7-9 yrs range (or thereabouts).

The father suggested that it was maybe time to get the kids arvas - not only for avalanche safety, but also in case they fell into deep snow pockets as they are still pretty small.

note: at no point is anyone suggesting that the parents are being irresponsible in any way nor would take the children anywhere extreme or obviously risky. But the kids are now skiing and enjoying off-piste.


It occurred to me that in this special case the Cambridge Ski Safety beacons might be a useful interim step. The kids are not old enough to be searching, but it would provide the added peace of mind desired by the parents and begin to help educate the children about responsible skiing practice.

Note also that I have read and agree with the sentiments expressed in previous threads about the CSS product. snowHead snowHead So any simple repeats of the same arguments will be treated as they deserve.

Before I send him a link, which I have said that I will do anyway, I thought I'd poll you folks for caveats or thoughts that I may not have considered.

Clearly one point is that this is a fairly temporary measure as the children are not so very far off being old enough to be fully kitted out and capable of responding. So given that arva technology changes relatively slowly spending ~£60 now may be a limited economy?

Thanks...
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Get them something cheap like a Pieps Freeride and start their search training. I think they would love that. It would be a great game in the snow with a possible prize at the end of it.
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You can get a Pieps freeride beacon for under a hundred euros. Might be a better investment although the search feature is hard to use.

You shouldn't really take kids anywhere there is an avalanche risk.
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under a new name, I wouldn't send them a CSS link. I would recommend getting Ortovox zooms. Dead easy to use.

I haven't admitted in as many words on SH's before, but when mine were around that age and at the same stage of skiing, i.e. able to interact with things like tree wells, I got them Zooms and myself a shovel and probe. I full accept any flaming I might get about being over protective, but I made that decision for the following reasons:

They were old enough to carry, old enough to start to learn to search (they could always easily find the hidden muliple transceivers in a field from the first day of owning one once we had studies and practised how to do this), they would get used to theory and practice of off-piste safety (as they will doubtless end up there in later life); though they weren't strong enough to probe shovel I was - initially it wouldn't be me in the trees with them unless they failed to reappear when expected - I have done much online research into rescue and digging techniques and can also find the other two transceivers in a multiple hiding situation. I also reasoned that if I was investing why waste cash on kit that wouldn't be useful later? As I see it, I they have a decent device to use as they get older, and I have one set of shovel and probe and therefore only need to buy one more later.

I have invested in 3 zooms and a shovel and a probe (after taking advice on suitable kit for my needs). OK it cost a lot, but it brought me a great deal of peace of mind and my competent and sensible kids their slight freedom to roam further on the moutain without me i.e. when they spot a well skied tree route just off the edge that they fancy trying that I don't.

FWIW the CSS was going hammer and tongs on SH's when I made my decision. Regular readers will have noticed my interest into transceivers and avalanche gear, well ownership is the reason why. I haven't posted this before as I could imagine the reception I might get, but sod it, if my experience helps others then so be it and the OP's question sounds entirely relevant.
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Thanks all - just what I needed. Pieps and Ortovox options seem to suit the bill - hadn't realised that you could get such cheap devices.

davidof,
Quote:

You shouldn't really take kids anywhere there is an avalanche risk.


I and their parents totally agree, it's not really that they think there's a risk, but are conscious that even though they are not skiing anything that they think is risky, inappropriate nor that the kids won't enjoy it, but they are conscious that they and others can make mistakes or errors in judgement. And they think it's never too early to start to develop good habits.
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Quote:

And they think it's never too early to start to develop good habits.


I def. agree!!
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under a new name wrote:

I and their parents totally agree, it's not really that they think there's a risk, but are conscious that even though they are not skiing anything that they think is risky, inappropriate nor that the kids won't enjoy it, but they are conscious that they and others can make mistakes or errors in judgement. And they think it's never too early to start to develop good habits.
snowHead


I'm not making any judgement and there is plenty of zero avalanche risk off piste around to ski on with kids and the Pieps freeride would fit the bill for that kind of terrain, and beyond.
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davidof, no, I was sure you weren't Happy - the Pieps looks just fine - coincidentally the same model is rented out in Champoluc and I will confess that I couldn't even work out how to switch it to search without instruction ... Shocked
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under a new name, That's where the Zoom came into its own - I was really impressed with it for kids (err...and for me Embarassed), switching from send to receive is as simple as putting two thumbs on the top of the unit and sliding the two halves of the switch apart. I couldn't believe the simplicity of the device to use and it was relatively small and light too, I think it also has a smart antennae which I believe helps with multiple burial orientations too. Review here: http://www.wildsnow.com/10229/ortovox-zoom-avalanche-beacon-review/ and many folks seem to sell them including some of SH's own members.
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Thanks Megamum, nice to hear good things about the zoom. I think it's time for me to buy a couple of transceivers so my group can practice with them (we get them from the ski school when offpiste if needed). My theory is wearing them is little use if no one has any practice bar the 2 mins with the instructor before setting off, and it's the zoom I'm looking at.
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a.j., the multiple burials bit seemed good too. You get a symbol when it picks up more than one signal, then it claims to be capable of latching onto the closest one for the next 'find'. In our artificial 'find me in a field' practices this seems to work as described. I keep hoping that SH, will do another transceiver practice day, but the machine indicates when the finder needs to execute the saw tooth search pattern and then once it finds a signal a directional arrow draws the finder in around the spiral signal of the sending device and a distance read out shows how far away you are. All in all it seemed to be a transceiver that you could learn the basics of within minutes yet seems to get a good write up in terms of being a device that is 'up to job' when used in anger on the mountain.
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P.S. a.j., where in London springs to mind - it seems to me that might not be so far away if we all decided to get together some day and practice.
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If they have a fully functioning transceiver then even tho they may not be able to search, someone else might be able to if the needs arise.

I also have concerns that the CSS device would actually perform the functions it's designed for. When I queried the chap in earlier threads about how much of the transceiver standard that it actually met (including operating temperatures, battery life, robustness, environmental protection) he was cagey to say the least stating that they do all the testing themselves and as it doesn't receive it cannot meet the standard. While technically a correct answer, it didn't answer my question.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Good idea - I'm Canary Wharf, but have a car and happy to head out east as far as lakeside/bluewater/hemel or even further afield tbh. If I go ahead and buy some I'll put up a thread to see if anyone wants to come play Wink
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Quote:

If they have a fully functioning transceiver then even tho they may not be able to search, someone else might be able to if the needs arise.

feef, This ^^^^ was also something that occurred to me too Very Happy The only thing to remember is that if the whole group carries them then the whole group also needs to remember to turn them off of send or ski completely away from the area if they do encounter a search in progress and are not required, as extra unburied signals would hardly help the process!!
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 Poster: A snowHead
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feef wrote:
If they have a fully functioning transceiver then even tho they may not be able to search, someone else might be able to if the needs arise.


That had occurred to me-

feef wrote:
I also have concerns that the CSS device would actually perform the functions it's designed for. When I queried the chap in earlier threads about how much of the transceiver standard that it actually met (including operating temperatures, battery life, robustness, environmental protection) he was cagey to say the least stating that they do all the testing themselves and as it doesn't receive it cannot meet the standard. While technically a correct answer, it didn't answer my question.
. I'd forgotten that point from a prior discussion, but it's a good one.
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Quote:

The only thing to remember is that if the whole group carries them then the whole group also needs to remember to turn them off of send or ski completely away from the area if they do encounter a search in progress and are not required, as extra unburied signals would hardly help the process!!


Also a good point to remember!!
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Folks, just so you know, I have made the suggestion of the Freeride and the Zoom...
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Interesting. Knowing nothing about off-piste skiing, I thought of the parallels with sailing (cruising, not dinghies which is completely different). You don't have to be taking kids anywhere obviously dangerous, or irresponsible, to have them wear a life-jacket and to wear a lifeline when appropriate (which it isn't always). It would be dopey to say "I'd never let my kids fall out of the boat so they don't need a life-jacket".
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pam w, I think I am quite liking that analogy.
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Yep something like a Freeride is cheap and light and my 9 year old loves using hers to seek out mine in the back garden. Sure it is easier when its her Pieps hidden and my Ortovox

davidof,
Quote:

You shouldn't really take kids anywhere there is an avalanche risk.


So that pretty much rules out any trip to the mountains then!
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@Megamum, I was thinking of buying my son a beacon (and myself beacon, probe, shovel) for the same reasons you state. He loves going into any track off the side of the piste, through trees, and I expect we will both be doing more off piste in the coming years (as safely as possible, controlled snowcross zones etc). Already at age 6 is he is going places I may not always be able to follow and did fall into a tree well, but there wasn't much snow and I was not far behind on that occasion.

Im looking at the Pieps DSP Sport or Ortovox 3+. For £180 and not much more for kit with probe and shovel its an investment for for extra peace of mind, and as some have said, good to get him used to thinking, practicing of Avalanche safety.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Fri 27-11-15 22:42; edited 1 time in total
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pam w wrote:
Interesting. Knowing nothing about off-piste skiing, I thought of the parallels with sailing (cruising, not dinghies which is completely different). You don't have to be taking kids anywhere obviously dangerous, or irresponsible, to have them wear a life-jacket and to wear a lifeline when appropriate (which it isn't always). It would be dopey to say "I'd never let my kids fall out of the boat so they don't need a life-jacket".


No that's a bad analogy.

A child can drown in a few feet of water and can quickly get into difficulty even if a good swimmer in cold water that is choppy and has currents. So it is always a good idea to where a life jacket. I was out on the lac du Bourget the other day - completely calm but if the boat sank I'd have a 2km swim to shore in 15C water. Not sure I'd fancy that even though I'm a good swimmer.

A life jacket is more akin to a ski helmet. Yes we were all swallows and amazons once but things have evolved since then.

You can think of much of the mountain, at least where there are ski runs and beyond in certain cases as effectively being dry land if you want to use your sailing mentality. You don't need a life jacket on in the club house - although judging by Chamonix and the number of people where harnesses and beacons round town YMMW Happy. My argument is that you shouldn't be deliberately taking kids into areas where there is a risk of avalanches as they are not capable of evaluation the risk and making a responsible decision for themselves.
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@davidof, there is a risk everywhere. In some areas extremely low likelihood, but avalanches can cross marked runs. I don't think anyone is suggesting to take kids to remote off piste on high or even medium warning days - the OP was clear about that.
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@Themasterpiece,

And what if you get buried* and your small child is suddenly placed in a position of responsibility? I think that is unconscionable so I will only take my kids places where I am as certain as I can be that I wont be buried. In which case the transceiver is redundant. My kids will be 13 and 11 this season. Last year we played with transceivers a bit (set up and easter egg hunt) but I won't have them carrying gear until they have the emotional maturity to actually use it. Of course that may not be that long in my older child's case.

My basic test is this - if I think avvy gear is going to be of any value I shouldn't be there with children.

* A decent estimate is that the leading skier is the one that gets buried 90% of the time. So what does that suggest you do when you are skiing with a child? Send them down first because you have more chance of digging them out or you go first meaning they could have to spend their life knowing they had to watch ineffectually as you died?

J
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under a new name wrote:
But the kids are now skiing and enjoying off-piste


Then they should all have beacons now. If not then they are being irresponsible unless I'm missing something
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@dsoutar, "missng something" ... the age of the thread?
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^ the wonders of using the Internet on a mobile phone!
Nevertheless my comment still hilds
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@dsoutar, off piste does not in and of itself mean avalanche terrain.

anyhoo, they got pieps - and training - and more training...
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@jedster, you are deliberately missing the point. No one is suggesting put a beacon on the kids so if looks dangerous send them first because you can always dig them out.
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Quote:

@jedster, you are deliberately missing the point. No one is suggesting put a beacon on the kids so if looks dangerous send them first because you can always dig them out.


No I'm not - I didn't suggest you said that. I asked you how you would approach it. Do you go first or do they go first? A simple question. And if you go first, what happens if you get buried? Again, simple question.

I am suggesting a beacon is worse than useless with children because it could encourage you to take them into areas where they don't have the maturity to cope with the potential consequences. The only off piste you should consider with kids is stuff where you KNOW that an avalanche is not possible hence the beacon is redundant. IF you don't KNOW that the terrain is avalanche safe don't go there.

I'm using KNOW in the statistical sense of meteor strike like probabilities given considerations such as slope angle, snow condition/depth, lack of any kind of overhanging slope, lack of any kind of terrain trap, likely avalanche controlled slope -preferably thoroughly consolidated piste above you.

Just an example of something I skied with my son last year - it is a gently angled shoulder (starts close to horizontal from a lift and steepens to 20 degrees) that forms a ridge line between two pistes about 40 feet above them. There was about 6 inches of fresh snow on a well consolidated base. Risk level 2. The two pistes converged at the foot of the shoulder. We skied on the shoulder and finished at the junction in the pistes. Any slip of snow from the shoulder would slide out onto the piste at one side or the other.

This why I think dsoutar's comment is ballcocks

Quote:

Then they should all have beacons now. If not then they are being irresponsible unless I'm missing something


Explain just how we could have been at risk of avalanche in the off piste terrain I described above.

Beacons cannot make children safe off piste because you can protect them from the dreadful possibility of not being able to rescue you. Only EXTREMELY cautious risk management to avoid the possibility of a beacon being useful is appropriate for leading kids.
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Megamum wrote:
under a new name, I wouldn't send them a CSS link. I would recommend getting Ortovox zooms. Dead easy to use.

I haven't admitted in as many words on SH's before, but when mine were around that age and at the same stage of skiing, i.e. able to interact with things like tree wells, I got them Zooms and myself a shovel and probe. I full accept any flaming I might get about being over protective, but I made that decision for the following reasons:


NO SUCH THING AS BEING OVER PROTECTIVE!!

Makes perfect sense to me to provide any child who is playing off the side or in trees with avi kit, if only to find them. What is £100 for your childs life. You'd like to think that receiving one will start conversations about safety and thus start their education in all things avalanche safety.

My only apprehension is that if an avalanche occurred, and your child wasn't buried, would they know how to switch modes to ensure those searching weren't following a signal to your child whose sat at the side of the slope watching it all unfold.
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jedster wrote:
This why I think dsoutar's comment is ballcocks

Quote:

Then they should all have beacons now. If not then they are being irresponsible unless I'm missing something



I've lost count of how many times I've heard of avy incidents where it was considered safe including professional skiers as well as no shortage of slides where the risk was low. Do you really think that people ski on slopes that they think are likely to slide rolling eyes

Potentially more of an issue is what is being demonstrated to others, i.e. it's OK to ski OP without a beacon. That's not a good mind set to have nor to encourage.
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dsoutar wrote:
jedster wrote:
This why I think dsoutar's comment is ballcocks

Quote:

Then they should all have beacons now. If not then they are being irresponsible unless I'm missing something



I've lost count of how many times I've heard of avy incidents where it was considered safe including professional skiers as well as no shortage of slides where the risk was low. Do you really think that people ski on slopes that they think are likely to slide rolling eyes

Potentially more of an issue is what is being demonstrated to others, i.e. it's OK to ski OP without a beacon. That's not a good mind set to have nor to encourage.


Last year when in tignes for new year I saw 12 avalanches on the espace killy area, 4 which crossed the slopes. These weren't set off by skis of blasting. avalanches happen everywhere not just OP


http://youtube.com/v/Urge2E3F_Lc
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The principals behind what slopes can avalanche are pretty well understood so lets break things down.

99.99% of the time the slides you see crossing ski slopes are spring snow avalanches. You'd have to be very unlucky to get caught by one and if you were beacons, airbags etc are not a lot of use as you are likely to die by being crushed to death by the density of the snow if you are buried. The chance of being killed by an avalanche on piste is something like 1 in 250 million skier days. Wet snow avalanches can occur on relatively flat slopes and can run quite a long way. In the case of the St Francois Longchamps avalanche shown in the video the ski resort knew there was a risk but kept running the lift for commercial reasons.

The majority of avalanche fatalities are via self triggered slab avalanches. In Europe and NA there are very few incidents of slabs being triggered on slopes less than 30 degrees. 30 degrees is a good black ski run, 25 degrees is often quoted as the absolute minimum angle for a slope to slab avalanche. The runout distances are also well understood. So that means there is a whole lot of mountain where slab avalanches can't happen due to the laws of physics, fluid mechanics etc. It also means that any slope where there are sections more than 30 degrees, at least in winter conditions, is potentially dangerous whatever anyone, professional or otherwise, tells you. You then have a whole spectrum between a N sector, wind loaded slope in mid winter with a weak layer at 50cm below the surface and a south facing slope with no new snow or wind over the last 3 or 4 days to slopes that have had a lot of skier compaction.

None of this is a secret, it is all widely known basic avalanche knowledge. Ask any instructor where he takes kids to learn off piste in resort - he'll have lots of little, low angled slopes with maybe tracks down between the trees where there is zero avalanche risk.
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@davidof,
indeed. ski instructors take kids off piste without avalanche gear all the time.
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Quote:

Potentially more of an issue is what is being demonstrated to others, i.e. it's OK to ski OP without a beacon. That's not a good mind set to have nor to encourage.



I think you are reaching here too. Whenever I take my kids off piste we talk about where we are going, where we are not going, why, how I am weighing up the risks and concluding that it's safe. I often point out lines that I would be happy to ski with the right equipment AND OTHER SKIERS WHO ARE ABLE TO USE IT but won't with them. That is how you develop avalanche awareness not by saying "right we've passed the piste marker here's your beacon"
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jedster wrote:
@davidof,
indeed. ski instructors take kids off piste without avalanche gear all the time.


hardly makes it right though does it?!

As far as im concerned knowledge and executing it is what will prevent a slide in the first, however if there is safety equipment out there then there is no excuse not to use it.
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Quote:

hardly makes it right though does it?!


I disagree - what would be wrong was if they took kids anywhere that a transceiver could be useful.
But I've banged that drum enough.
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Google search threw up this old thread. Any recommendation for a simple, easy to use avalanche transceiver?

Some good tips here for where kids involved
https://www.ispo.com/en/trends/how-go-ski-touring-children
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