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Technique / Safety

ORTOVOX ALU 240 PFA AVALANCHE PROBE REVIEW

ORTOVOX ALU 240 PFA PROBE £55 www.ortovox.com Ortovox market this as a ‘rookie’s probe’ as it’s reduced to the essentials for quick and easy assembly and use, although that’s surely all you need in a probe whether a rookie or a professional? Anyway, what this means is that you get a 200g aluminium probe which can be assembled and collapsed in seconds, with the tension set by simply turning the optimized adjusting screw. The large probe tip, which has a significantly larger diameter compared to the probe elements above it, ensures improved penetration even in hard packed snow. The probe also has easy-to-read depth markers, a clear one-meter marker and there’s a plastic outer sleeve at the top for a…

MAMMUT BARRYVOX S TRANSCEIVER REVIEW

MAMMUT BARRYVOX S £330 www.mammut.swiss The Barryvox S transceiver is recognised as a benchmark in modern avalanche transceivers and is what you’re likely to see rescuers and guides using, so if you spend a lot of time in the backcountry it’s worth considering if you're in the market for a new transceiver, irrespective of the expense. The Barryvox S is also worth considering for the simple reason that it speeds up avalanche rescue times thanks to a wider search strip and reception range than previous models; the search strip width is 70-metres and the transceiver has a reliable reception range of up to 70-metres, and it’s capable of dealing with single or multiple burials, the latter even when signals overlap.…

ORTOVOX 3+ AVALANCHE RESCUE KIT REVIEW

ORTOVOX 3+ AVALANCHE RESCUE KIT £230 www.ortovox.com If you’re getting into backcountry skiing and looking for all the basic safety equipment without breaking the bank this is a great option as it costs less than buying transceiver, shovel and probe separately and it’s actually cheaper than it was last winter. The 3+ set consists of an Ortovox 3+ transceiver, an Ortovox Badger shovel and an Ortovox 240 Light PFA probe, along with an Ortovox Safety Academy Guidebook which explains the basics of avalanche rescue and also contains a lot of useful, additional background information. The 3+ transceiver automatically switches to the best transmission antenna when in use so an avalanche victim can be found quickly and easily, and has an…

SCOTT ALPRIDE 24 ABS PACK REVIEW

SCOTT ALPRIDE 24 ABS PACK £620 www.scott-sports.com Yes, at over six hundred smackers the Scott Alpride is a costly backpack, but how much is your life worth, because the integrated ABS system may well save it? The 24-litre capacity pack is one of the lightest ABS bags on the market at 1240g, and is a good size for daytrips although you’ll struggle to get all the gear you’ll need for an overnight stay in it. The trigger handle is height-adjustable and glove-friendly and has multiple grabbing options – when pulled it will inflate the 150-litre airbag in just three seconds. Scott claim that the system is maintenance free; it uses two cartridges containing a mix of compressed argon and liquified…

STAYING SAFE IN THE BACKCOUNTRY

Heading off-piste? Then you should seriously consider signing up for an 'ISTA' avalanche safety course. By Alf Alderson There’s a sprinkling of fresh powder across the peaks and the sun shines bright from a dazzling blue sky as my breath bursts into the sub-zero air like a steam train; I’m in Verbier to take part in the International Snow Training Academy’s ‘Discovery’ avalanche safety course, and I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised to find that it involves a good deal of skiing rather than just tramping around with transceivers and digging in the snow. The reason I’m doing the course is because 90 per cent of avalanches affecting skiers are triggered by the skiers themselves; in other…

Ski Ballet Reborn

The briefly popular activity of ski ballet was revived at an indoor snow centre recently. The weird and wonderful art of Ski Ballet will be unknown to many, but it did appear on various TV shows in February during the South Korean Olympics as a novelty feature as TV stations featured unusual snowsports from Olympics past. Consisting of a choreographed routine of jumps, spins and tricks – all performed on skis – the impressive sport of ski ballet, occasionally referred to as ‘acroski’, was alleged to have inspired the freestyle skiing we know today. Ski ballet was never officially an Olympic sport but it was a demonstration sport was competed on a World stage at the 1988 Games in Calgary…

Exceptional Snow Depths on Alpine Glaciers

Snow depths in the Alps are at historic highs after more heavy snowfall over the past 10 days on top of already deep accumulations built up through one of the snowiest winters this century.  Probably THE snowiest this century in many areas. Engelberg (below) in Switzerland’s Titlis glacier is reporting a 7.4m (nearly 25 feet) base after almost 1.5m (five feet) of snowfall there in the last week of March.  It’s the deepest base in the world at present and believed to be the first time  ski area in the Alps has posted a 7m+ snow depth for many years.  It’s open for snowsports until mid-May. In Austria the Dachstein Glacier (below) has gone past the 6m (20 feet) base…

World’s Most Advanced Chairlift Yet Coming to Montana

What is believed to be the most advanced chairlift yet built will be installed at the Montana ski resort of Big Sky this summer and be operational for winter 2018-19. The new lift, which will also be the first eight-seater chairlift to be installed in North America will feature a host of hi-tec functions, some of them visible to users, others to the lift’s operators. The next generation Doppelmayr D-Line chairlift will provide feature the signature Big Sky blue bubble covers for added warmth and seats that are heated, form-fitting and wider than any ever made, providing what Doppelmayr say will be the most comfortable chairlift ride yet conceived. Other features include an integrated 30’ x 10’ high resolution LED…

Location, Location, Location’s Phil Spencer Amongst Team Raising Over £1m For Charity in Gruelling Ski Touring Challenge

A charity fund-raising ski expedition in Switzerland which took place over four days at the end of February to raise funds for research into paediatric brain tumours looks set to raise over £1 million. Along with 30 other intrepid challengers, Phil Spencer, the Channel 4 presenter of Location, Location, Location and Love it or List It joined the charity’s epic ski tour in Verbier, ski-touring a gruelling total of 8,848 metres uphill, the height of Everest.  “It was a personal Everest for everyone. It was simply incredible and something I would never have thought I would have been able to achieve. It was the epic challenge of my life!” Phil said after completing the challenge. Teams ski tour the height…

Chairlift Operator Blamed For Georgia’s Ski-Lift-Going-Backwards Accident That Went Viral

The operator of a fixed-grip chairlift which went in to revere at apparently high speed, flinging skiers on the lift of backwards with centrifugal force, has been blamed for the accident. Video of the accident on March 16th went viral and news media outlets all over the world broadcast footage of the incident, causing the Georgian government to launch a major damage imitation exercise to try to salvage the reputation of the Gudauri ski area which has seen major investment in recent years in an attempt to build its status as an international destination resort. The Georgian government employed an organisation called ‘Bureau Veritas’ to look in to the accident, describing them as international safety experts. The Bureau Veritas report…