The 2021 ESAW seminar on October 26,27& 28 was a super way to kick off the season!  The event was again held virtually, with engaging presentations and panel discussions, raffle prizes and good Q&A through online chat. The presentations are being shared through the MWAC Youtube channel and I’ve linked the first one below. Stay tuned for further updates as more video comes online.

Doug Workman – a ski guide with decades of experience with Valdez Heli Guides, Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and more – shared his take on beacon search strategies.   His presentation below reviews the basics of the beacon search process using the analogy of landing an airplane. High and fast when acquiring the beacon signal, getting slower and lower to the snow surface as the distance to the beacon drops and coming in for the landing with the fine search and pinpoint probing.  He stresses the fundamentals – like knowing you beacon through practice, but offers great insight on increasing overall speed by getting to the pinpoint probe as soon as possible.  This translates to finding a good balance of getting your beacon close to the snow surface while still being able to move relatively quickly. Think about the target size – it’s easier to probe for a person than a 6″ plastic container.  Focus on getting to the lowest possible number on the beacon can lead to “oversearching”. Consider how much fine grid searching is needed to get into probing range.  Remember, the probe ultimately finds the victim, not the beacon!

Great review material and good food for thought on how we best teach and practice the critical skills of beacon & probe searching.

Look for more ESAW updates in coming weeks.

Think snow!!

Ken Koehlert
NH Region Avalanche Supervisor