Do you need a transceiver in KNP?

Is a transceiver required?

  • Yes, you need a beacon at all times.

    Votes: 9 28.1%
  • No, a beacon is overkill.

    Votes: 8 25.0%
  • Maybe, the day after a large amount (say > 60cm) falls all at once.

    Votes: 15 46.9%

  • Total voters
    32

fenrir

One of Us
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Jul 23, 2010
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Opinions required. I will be heading into sidecountry this year as I want to avoid the crowds and I'm assembling my kit. I already have a partner, and a PLB should we require evacuation due to injury or cartographical incompetence.

I know avalanches happen in KNP but for say Guthega, Ramshead, or Leather Barrel Creek how likely are you to be buried all the way under to the point where you require a beacon to be found vs buried to your waist where you can be visually located and dug out?

Does the equation change going somewhere like Paralyser?
 

Untele-whippet

beard stroker
Ski Pass
Jul 13, 2006
19,137
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If you own a beacon and the conditions are primed and you’re heading in that direction then yes......but then why are you heading there?
Only headed out once in 42 years of OZ BC with a beacon, in a whiteout, where the previous day there were inbound avi’s, we were attempting to access mellowish terrain.
We aborted.
It’s boiler plate ice and an uncontrollable slide or whiteout lostness you should be much more concerned about.
I’ve seen fridge sized debris in Siren Song Ck.
If in doubt, don’t.
 

Chaeron

Ski-Hike-Blade-Bike-Kayak
Ski Pass
Jun 24, 2014
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So transceivers can build false confidence and a false sense of security imo. Not saying they’re not valuable, but they’re a single tool in a toolkit and a single factor in a complex scenario - uncertainty should suggest caution.

Some of the more recent packaged BC intro ‘training’ which is Avvy focused doesn’t square with the predominant risk profile of our BC - as critical as it might be for some...and as terrible as the consequences have been a few seasons back.

In Europe, Japan, Canada and the USA outbounds avalanche terrain is frequently within rescue distance of resorts or in areas with lots of skiers besides the tour party.

Oz scenario - remote location, isolated, small parties, maybe one or two potential rescuers only....

OK, so a beacon can locate you, and that’s ONE variable dealt with.

Risk management is about factoring in and addressing the compounded variables...

Exposure, whiteouts, ice, run-out terrain .. instructive to look at the compounded history of Oz out of bounds snow fatalities...

Someone should do the table for the comparative stats...

Knowing and avoiding the common pitfalls would have a larger immediate positive safety impact for new tourers, who could simply avoid avvy terrain...
 

Slowman

One of Us
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Apr 10, 2016
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My five cents worth is:
If the conditions are firm or icy then there is generally not any point.
If there is snow that can slide and you are going to terrain that it can slide on (25 degrees or more they say) then each of your party can usefully carry a beacon/probe/shovel. Opinions differ but I think the AST 1 course is worth doing. A couple of outfits conduct this course here.

In our typical conditions, as earlier posts have observed, the much higher risk factors are sliding into solid objects or getting hypothermia. Always be ready to turn back or choose easier options. Give some thought to other safety items. Ski crampons are great things. It looks stupid but I also really like and often use my bothy bag. A decent map and a compass are also worth carrying. Light, cheap and no batteries to worry about.
 

N0frilz

Addicted
Jul 13, 2015
267
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A shovel, probe and transceiver are not an option going on the back country.

but most importantly you need to know how to use them and understand safe travel techniques in the back country.

the poor she will be right attitude in australia is how people get killed a perfect example is the two dudes killed on bogong a few years ago. The media claimed they were well prepared but from what I read it was an accident waiting to happen.

Go prepared for the worst and hopefully you never need to use it. I always carry safety gear and I’ve turned about and walked out with out riding things there’s always tomorrow. Safety gear does not give a false sense of security unless you are an idiot.
 

fenrir

One of Us
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Jul 23, 2010
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Great feedback. We were looking at doing a couple of guided courses once they were available to cover the basics of terrain selection (there is only so much that can be learned by reading, practical learning is needed too). In terms of other gear shovels were on the list but now the bothy bag is too.
It sounds like the consensus is that the main risk presented by avalanche in Australia is not burial? It seems most of the advice from people with beacons is they take one because they have one and not because they feel that being buried is a more likely consequence of a slide than the numerous other ways that the country can kill you.
 
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dawooduck

relaxed and comfortable
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Oct 26, 2002
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No, it's only the last 5-10 years that beacons became a thing in Oz which pretty much mirrors AST courses becoming a thing in Oz.

That ain't powder snow sliding out there is wet concrete and fractured cornice two circumstances easily avoided.

Navigation and ice slides, not powder avalanche and whole slope fractures.

Take a shovel and learn to navigate and read the terrain, avoid creeks and shrubbery.

Even better .... learn to ski
 

Chaeron

Ski-Hike-Blade-Bike-Kayak
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Jun 24, 2014
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If you’re skiing steeps that could avalanche you shouldn’t go without avvy equipment and training, but probably more importantly go with a more experienced party member.

For an immense amount of terrain on the Main Range and in Vic avalanche is a vastly less significant risk factor.
 

dawooduck

relaxed and comfortable
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Oct 26, 2002
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If you’re skiing steeps that could avalanche you shouldn’t go without avvy equipment and training, but probably more importantly go with a more experienced party member.

For an immense amount of terrain on the Main Range and in Vic avalanche is a vastly less significant risk factor.

One would think that by the time people can actually ski anything serious aspect enough to slide they would know when to go and when to whoa.

Learn to ride the snotty sluff .....
 

Chaeron

Ski-Hike-Blade-Bike-Kayak
Ski Pass
Jun 24, 2014
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Great feedback. We were looking at doing a couple of guided courses once they were available to cover the basics of terrain selection (there is only so much that can be learned by reading, practical learning is needed too). In terms of other gear shovels were on the list but now the bothy bag is too.
It sounds like the consensus is that the main risk presented by avalanche in Australia is not burial? It seems most of the advice from people with beacons is they take one because they have one and not because they feel that being buried is a more likely consequence of a slide than the numerous other ways that the country can kill you.
Bothy Bag, down jacket, surplus food, handwarmers, extra gloves, duct tape...

Ski crampons for the win...
 

Bonsi

Hard Yards
Jul 15, 2003
18
28
63
46
Jindy
Having done an AST1 course and doing a few guided BC skiing trips in japan trips has opened my eyes a bit for my skiing here, and all the mistakes I've made and got away with in the past. Mainly about reading the terrain and making better choices in traveling with in it. I think with more people wanting to head out in the aussi back country in search of the short lived 'good snow' we'll hear more stories. True, Avies here are rare compared to OS and can mostly be avoided with some basic knowledge and common sense. I'm now in the group of 'I have the gear so I just take it anyway'. I also carry a spot tracker which is probably of far grate importance as I'm out on my own a lot, which I know I shouldn't.
 
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Fozzie Bear

A Local
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Jun 2, 2014
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...... Mainly about reading the terrain and making better choices in traveling with in it......

This. Is better to avoid a situation than require rescuing. And remember that the majority of avalanche deaths are from trauma and not asphyxiation.

....I also carry a spot tracker which is probably of far grate importance as I'm out on my own a lot, which I know I shouldn't.

This...... other than mobile phone coverage is often better in the BC than in the resorts.


Back to OP @fenrir I would make sure you have and carry bivvy gear before worrying about avalanche rescue. I would worry about reading terrain to learn to read risk before worrying about avalanche rescue. And funny how that twat who got himself buried on Etheridge Ridge last year had all the gear and no idea and had just done AST 1.
 

CarveMan

I Never Slice
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May 12, 2000
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I also carry a spot tracker which is probably of far grate importance as I'm out on my own a lot, which I know I shouldn't.
I'll be looking at a Garmin inReach at some stage, I definitely want a handheld GPS that isn't compromised like a smartphone in poor weather, can be operated with gloves on etc, but also because I do solo mountain biking around Mt Buller in areas with dubious phone reception.
 

currawong

Old but not so Crusty
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Sep 17, 2003
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I'll be looking at a Garmin inReach at some stage, I definitely want a handheld GPS that isn't compromised like a smartphone in poor weather, can be operated with gloves on etc, but also because I do solo mountain biking around Mt Buller in areas with dubious phone reception.
we got the inreach for mini (not a gps navigator) for cycling, skiing and kayaking. piece of mind definitely worth it. hope it's never needed but it's great to know it's there. the clincher was a day when +1 left me at camp and took the car an hour or so away to do a mtb ride in an area never previously visited. 2 hours overdue, phone not responding, not happy, about to call police.
 

dawooduck

relaxed and comfortable
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Oct 26, 2002
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Is the go to device for navigation in white outs and emergency messaging?

download.jpeg


What is the shizzle for batteries ?
 

CarveMan

I Never Slice
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we got the inreach for mini (not a gps navigator) for cycling, skiing and kayaking. piece of mind definitely worth it. hope it's never needed but it's great to know it's there. the clincher was a day when +1 left me at camp and took the car an hour or so away to do a mtb ride in an area never previously visited. 2 hours overdue, phone not responding, not happy, about to call police.
Good move. I'll go for the GPS navigator option, I've been in a total whiteout on the top of the main range, one of our group had a handheld Garmin eTrex and it was perfect, the weather was dry so in reality any number of us could have operated our smartphones but in a blizzard you need something with physical buttons that can be operated with gloves on.
 

currawong

Old but not so Crusty
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Sep 17, 2003
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Good move. I'll go for the GPS navigator option, I've been in a total whiteout on the top of the main range, one of our group had a handheld Garmin eTrex and it was perfect, the weather was dry so in reality any number of us could have operated our smartphones but in a blizzard you need something with physical buttons that can be operated with gloves on.
only time I've really needed a GPS was heading from Cleve Cole to Eskdale in a summer whiteout. it was before GPSs were ubiquitous and we found that we had a few faster walkers slow down so they could benefit from ours. beats using string.

my adventures these days are tame enough to rely on gps app on the phone
 

CarveMan

I Never Slice
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May 12, 2000
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only time I've really needed a GPS was heading from Cleve Cole to Eskdale in a summer whiteout. it was before GPSs were ubiquitous and we found that we had a few faster walkers slow down so they could benefit from ours. beats using string.

my adventures these days are tame enough to rely on gps app on the phone
Yeah in your case the inReach mini is a perfect option.

Would probably be fine for me too on the MTB but if I ever get out proper winter touring again I've had a handheld GPS on my list for a number of years.
 
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fenrir

One of Us
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Jul 23, 2010
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Does anyone have a suggestion for a decent offline gps enabled maps app that works for android?
 

telecrag

Old n' Crusty
Ski Pass
Oct 12, 2007
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IMO

Knowing how to read snow, and knowing how the pack under you is constructed are good skills. If you are up there all the time you just sort go know whats on and whats not. If not so frequent, and want to ski a big line, a probe is your friend if like me there is no way you could be assed digging a pit. It will let you know what the layers are like pretty well. But normally with good observation on the approach you should already have a good idea. Plenty of really good fun skiing to be had very safely here.

Main dangers with slides are trees, rocks, and blocks.
 

Endless_Winter

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Apr 23, 2013
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I think you're approaching this from the wrong angle (i.e. what gear do I need?), instead I'd approach it from an education angle. Go take an avalanche course, I think there's some companies that run the canadian AST1 in Australia.

You'll learn to recognise avalanche terrain, consequences and the snowpack/weather conditions that would be conducive to avalanches occurring. Then YOU can decide, on any given day, if you need a beacon or not (plus learn how to use it!)
 

teletimmo

Addicted
Jul 16, 2008
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IMO slipping on ice and going for a slide is a far greater concern. Shift your focus to good risk management- know your abilities, know how to read the terrain and know how to read the conditions, and know when to say 'yeah nah'.

The Australian avalanche window is generally in the hours immediately following a big winter storm event, or perhaps late spring in the heat of the day when everything turns to snot. Those are the conditions that I'd be wary of steep wind-loaded slopes and cornices. We do get hoar frosts on main range from time-to-time during extreme cold events. Watch out for big dumps on hoar frost or sugar snow layers, although our maritime climate means that these instabilities don't last long.

An avi course is a good idea, but I'd probably do one outside of Australia. I don't think you need a guide in Australia, save your cash and team-up with a more experienced BC skier from this forum or elsewhere.
 

skifree

A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe
Moderator
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I think you're approaching this from the wrong angle (i.e. what gear do I need?), instead I'd approach it from an education angle. Go take an avalanche course, I think there's some companies that run the canadian AST1 in Australia.

You'll learn to recognise avalanche terrain, consequences and the snowpack/weather conditions that would be conducive to avalanches occurring. Then YOU can decide, on any given day, if you need a beacon or not (plus learn how to use it!)
There is some evidence to suggest AST1 does not do this.
 

fenrir

One of Us
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IMO slipping on ice and going for a slide is a far greater concern.
I learned this on my first ever day on snow in Australia on piste at Buller. The south side looked so inviting, it looked like there was lots of fluffy snow that somehow all these idiots didn't feel the need to ski so I got up some speed and veered off the groomed trail running across the slope to head directly downhill.
Took me about 10 minutes to scale the icy face back up to where my skis broke through the crust and stuck.
 

Team Weasel

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Sep 19, 2015
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Agree with pretty much everything above. I probably use a beacon and avalanche airbag a few days a season in Oz. In reality, you do have to yank pretty hard on the dragon's tail here - as in making some really ill-conceived terrain choices quite soon after or during a storm. Or - more likely - it'll be the wet slides in spring taking you over something nasty. Besides that, our storm slabs can settle surprisingly quickly for the most part.

Conversely, I NEVER go out without something spiky in my pack or in my hands (crampons, ski crampons, whippets, ice axe...pick what you're most comfortable and knowledgeable in using.) You might only need them a couple of times a season, but they will save your butt in those instances.

But yeah, read a Tremper book (every year, before going to NH especially), do AST1 (pretty minimal requirement) and AST2 (which is a great course - really gets you assessing terrain and hones decision making).

Then just make up your own mind. Have an opinion on snow stability, then go out and assess what you see. Choose what gear you take based on your own risk assessment and risk tolerance. If unsure, be conservative with terrain choices.
 
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