$10,000 Grant for Beacon Checkers Helps Snowmobile Club Make Trails Safer

Snowmobile club members enjoy a group ride on Highway 20. Photo courtesy of Northwest Glacier Cruisers.

Heading into snow-covered mountain terrain always comes with a risk, but an area snowmobile club has now made popular trails in Skagit and Whatcom counties a bit safer. Using a $10,000 grant from the Puget Sound Energy Foundation, Northwest Glacier Cruisers purchased four solar-powered beacon checker stations where snowmobilers and others in the snowy backcountry can confirm that their beacons are working properly.

BCA is pleased to share that Northwest Glacier Cruisers has used the grant to install BCA Beacon Check stations at four locations in and around Mt. Baker, Washington. Having beacon check stations in popular destinations in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest can reduce the risk of avalanche-related deaths in the area.

Kimberly Cauvel of the Skagit County Herald reported:

“If you’re going into the backcountry you should have an avalanche beacon. When you turn it on it lets out a signal, a transmission that if you’re ever caught in an avalanche other people with beacons can find,” Northwest Glacier Cruisers club secretary Tina Shields said.

Jeff Hambelton of the Northwest Avalanche Center said the closest beacon check station he knows of is at a trailhead near Cle Elum.  “This achievement by the snowmobile club to bring these into the snowmobile community locally is a really big deal,” Hambelton said. “It helps riders make sure their gear is working before they go into the mountains, and it’s a great opportunity for the group to check in with themselves and consider whether they’ve looked at the avalanche forecast for the day.”

Snowmobilers, as well as others such as skiers and snowshoers, are encouraged to carry beacons. “If we have to find someone that’s 10 to 30 feet under the snow and their beacon is not beeping we’re not going to find them,” Shields said.

Time is of the essence when searching for someone buried in snow. “In the event of an avalanche, there really is a very short amount of time to perform the rescue … If the gear is working and they know how to use it then the likelihood of survival is much higher,” Hambelton said.

BCA has new avalanche transceiver education videos for snowmobile clubs available for club meetings, education and group rides. Watch and/or download:




Founded in 1967, Northwest Glacier Cruisers is one of the first and oldest snowmobile clubs in Washington State, based in Skagit County, WA. Their mission is to promote the sport of snowmobiling through good fellowship and sportsmanship, community service, education of our youth and cooperation with local authorities to maintain our riding areas. Their members are a mix of friends and families that cover all riding abilities from first timers to the most extreme mountain daredevils. The snowmobile club takes pride in providing a safe, exciting and absolutely beautiful access to groomed trails and warming huts on Mt. Baker.  Enjoy this photo gallery of the Northwest Glacier Cruisers members below.

Members enjoying their way, Highway 20.

Appreciating the snow and the views.

Getting stuck is part of the game!

Beautiful bluebird day for a ride.

Club members utilizing a warming hut in the high alpine.