Besides the risks of physical injuries and on life itself, as if they weren’t enough, the thrill and sensation-seeking nature of mountaineers put them at risk of cognitive deficit at altitude, mood and other emotional changes, dreams and hallucinations and perturbations of personal and interpersonal dynamics.
Hence, special mountaineering equipment is required and ice climbing is not something you just catch up on when in need of a new hobby. Besides the essentials like a mountaineering backpack and grovel crampons, a true mountaineer will have the right accessories that will not only get him/her to the top but also get down.
Also called an avalanche transceiver, an avalanche beacon is an electronic device worn on the body to help quickly find buried avalanche victims. Each member of the mountaineering group should get this piece of life-saving mountaineering equipment and turn it on the moment the journey begins. A turned-on beacon transmits an electronic “beep” about once per second.
If someone is buried, everyone else in the party turns their beacon to “Searcher” instead of “Send” mode. Subsequently, the signal from the buried victim’s beacon can be heard, getting stronger the closer you get. Next time you wonder if you need to get one and wonder do avalanche beacons save lives, remember that they are the only proven reliable way to locate a completely buried victim, save time and consequently their life. You should always wear your beacon under your jacket, not in your pack.
The technologies different brands use vary and they all have their strong and weak points. All beacons work on the same international standard frequency meaning that you won’t have to worry about the brand and are all avalanche beacons compatible. Some, however, have an additional communications channel of 869.8MHz for improved search performance. Practising how to use an avalanche beacon is also more important than the brand.
Nowadays, most avalanche transceivers have a digital antenna providing the essential functions, simple navigation and clear instructions. The search strip width can also vary, from 40 to 80 meters. Most available versions are light and slim, shock and break-proof, with an easy-to-read display and rubberised grip zones made for easy handling with gloves on. Never worry again about leaking batteries in your avalanche transceiver as modern rescue mountaineering gear is powered by USB-C rechargeable, low-temperature batteries.
If you’re into high-tech mountaineering equipment, get the world’s first-ever avalanche transceiver with voice navigation, guiding you through the search when seconds count. In combination with the large, easy-to-read display, the voice commands aid in finding your partner faster.
In addition to voice guidance, Smart Antenna Technology analyses signals from the device’s antennae after an avalanche. Secondary avalanche protection consists of reverting back to “Send” mode in the event of a secondary avalanche. A single operating button can serve for both “Group check” (easy flagging in multiple burials) and “Standby Mode”(suppressing the “Send” signal of the device to prevent interference with Searchers).
A Recco reflector can be included in the carrying system. A Recco reflector is a small band-aid size battery-free transponder that further aids Search and Rescue efforts.
Extendable Snow Shovel
An avalanche shovel is a necessity for digging avalanche victims out of the snow. Make sure you get a high-quality shovel and learn a proper digging technique as they can dramatically reduce rescue times and boost chances of survival. An aluminum extendable shovel that locks into place with a quick pull is not only durable and practical to transport but it’s also a time saver. Moreover, an avalanche snow shovel can have other uses besides rescue ones, like digging pits for snow stability tests to building jumps and digging out your car.
Getting through the snow is very time-consuming. Seeing as it’s the most important factor of the survival of the avalanche victim, knowing the exact location is crucial. An avalanche beacon signal will narrow the area as much as possible but only a probe will pinpoint the victim. Moreover, probes are the only way to find a victim who was wearing an inoperable beacon, or not wearing one at all. A probe with a minimum of 240cm is what you should consider. They’re made of aluminium or carbon and have a screw or quick clamp fitting to lock the sections in place.
Light, bend-resistant and reliable, there are carbon probes with a specially developed Speed Lock system for quick and effective operation. Furthermore, newer models have extremely precise probe scaling on both sides that allow you to exactly determine the depth of the probe in the snow hence how deep you need to go.
The lightest probe in the range is also made out of carbon and will not only add minimal weight to your pack but will also be extremely fast and easy to use. Find one with speed ferrules that allow ultra-quick deployment with the pull of a cord and non-slip coating that helps you hang on even with wet gloves.
Grivel Crampon Accessories
Now that we’ve covered the life-changers, it’s time to cover the details. We wouldn’t dare explain what’s a grivel crampon to a mountaineer however, are you familiar with all the new Grivel updates and accessories? Don’t risk having the sharp points of your crampon damage your other equipment or you and transport them safely in a specialized bag, made to withstand both sharp and wet objects. There are crampon safe bags with a reinforced bottom, wide zip opening and mesh for quick drying.
A grivel ice screw organiser can be worn both around the waist or over the shoulder, allowing storage and easy access to ice screws. Always keep spare front points and rear bail replacements for grivel crampons. You can find hot forged steel ones that come in pairs.
The most common injuries come from slipping on ice. Luckily, there are grip foot accessories with an easy fit system that is compatible with almost all mountain climbing footwear. These little add-ons are functional down to –40 and are perfect for all snow-covered terrain.
Ice Axe Accessory
The devil is in the details. Protect yourself and your gear by acquiring a pack of ice axe accessories that comes in two and fits most axes.