Avalanche Transceiver Trailhead Test for Snowmobilers (Video)

June 3, 2013

Learn the steps needed to perform an avalanche transceiver trailhead check with snowmobiles and how to ensure everyones beacons are working correctly.

In this video, the BCA team shows the steps to perform an avalanche transceiver trailhead check for snowmobilers, and how to ensure everyone's beacons are working correctly before heading out on the trail. It's important to check your group's beacons in both modes: transmit and search. We want to know that everybody in our group has the battery strength and knows how to use their beacons in both modes.

The first step is to pull out our transceivers, turn our transceivers on, and have everybody tell what their battery strength is. We go to transmit, and we relay our battery strength to the leader. If anybody needs to change out their batteries, now's the time to learn that. Then everybody in the group goes to search. We want to ensure everybody knows how to switch their transceiver to search. If there's someone in your group that you're not familiar with their transceivers, you can ask them how to use it because if they get caught in an avalanche, you need to be able to turn their transceiver off. It's best to learn about that at the beginning of the day.

Next, the leader goes to transmit, and everybody walks away from that leader. This will allow each rider to find out the effective range of their transceiver on that day. Everyone in the group would drag out the signal a little farther because they were locked into it. They're going to go until they do not get a readout on the screen, then turn around 180 degrees, and have everybody walk towards the leader to practice searching with their transceiver. They're going to go towards the leader and then pass the leader.

Now everybody in the group has practice searching, and that's one thing we've found at BCA is people do not practice searching enough. At that point, everybody goes to transmit, and the leader is going to jump on their snowmobile or snow bike, go down the trail about 50 to 100 yards, they're going to stop, shut off the machine, they'll switch their transceiver to search. Everybody's going to go by, they're going to be about thirty yards apart, they're going not a hundred miles an hour, but about thirty miles an hour, and the leader will give them the okay signal when they go by. He has checked everybody by now that they're transmitting. The last person in line stops and makes sure that the leader has switched theirs over to transmit, and they'll look for the red flashing light.

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.