Avalanche Transceiver Trailhead Test for Skiers and Snowboarders (Video)

June 4, 2013

Learn the steps needed to perform an avalanche transceiver trailhead test and how to ensure everyones beacons are working correctly before heading out on the trail.

In this video, the BCA team shows how to perform an avalanche transceiver trailhead test for skiers and snowboarders, and how to ensure everyone's beacons are working correctly before heading out on the trail. 

BCA recommends doing a trailhead transceiver check whenever you're going into the backcountry. The trailhead transceiver check serves two primary purposes: it guarantees everyone in your group has a functioning beacon in transmit and search mode and that everyone knows how to use their avalanche beacons. The trailhead check begins with everyone circling up around the leader about two or three meters apart in this video demonstration. The first step is for everyone to turn their beacons on and shout out our battery power level. These should be greater than 40%. 

Once everyone's transceivers are turned on, and we know they have a good battery level, we're all going to go into search mode. Doing this shows us that everyone in our group knows how to go into search mode from transmit mode, and we have no renegade signals. After everyone's gone into search mode, I'm going to go into transmit mode on my beacon and walk around to everyone and make sure they're all able to pick up my signal and showing, you know, two or three meters depending on how far away I am from them. Now that everyone's in search mode and the leader has looked at everyone's transceiver to see they're all picking up his or her signal, the leader will leave the group and start walking away. Once the group sees 20 meters on their transceivers, they will let the leader know, and the leader will stop walking. At that point, everyone in the group has a transceiver that can pick up a signal with an effective range of at least 20 meters. The leader will then switch his or her beacon from transmit mode to search mode and have each person in the group walk by spread out about 20 meters apart. This will ensure that the leader can pick up everyone's transceiver signals and they are transmitting correctly. 

We recommend doing this before heading out into the backcountry every time you go. You never want to get out there, have an accident happen, and have somebody with a malfunctioning transceiver.

Trailhead Transceiver Test Checklist

  1. Turn transceivers on and check battery levels.
  2. All switch to search mode and check for renegade signals.
  3. Leader switches to transmit and verifies distance reading on each group member's display.
  4. Group members walk away until the signal disappears, then turn around and follow the signal back to the leader.
  5. All members switch back to transmit.
  6. From at least 50 m away, the leader checks for transmit signal as each member goes by on their snowmobiles.
  7. Leader switches back to transmit mode.

To learn more about how to operate an avalanche transceiver, see our Tracker Resources page. Check out our complete lineup of BCA Tracker avalanche transceivers here.