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  1. #51
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    Oct 2003
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    Colorado
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    I don't think it is ever too early to get your kids aware of avalanche dangers and S&R procedures. I took my 4 and 7 year olds snowshoeing in RMNP on New Year's day and we did beacon practice. We hid the beacons with zip lock bags with candy in them and made it a game. Both of them found the beacons in very reasonable times.

    As for wearing Recco. I have them on my boots. Even if it is just for a body recovery, wouldn't it be beneficial to the searchers to be able to find me and get out of harms way quicker than doing a time exhausting probe line?

  2. #52
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    8

    Some info from RECCO

    I am Dale Atkins with RECCO AB (we're a Swedish company), and over the past few winters there have been some writings about RECCO: some good, some bad, and a lot somewhere in between. I would like to give some accurate information about our system, but first I would like to introduce myself, give a brief answer to Mtsprings’ questions, and respond to eight common myths about RECCO.

    I am the training and education manager or North America. Prior to that I worked as an avalanche forecaster and researcher for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center for 19 years. Along the way I have had 30+ years of mountain rescue experience and 20 years of professional ski patrolling. As a rescuer I have dug out enough bodies (starting in '74) to fill a bus. As a researcher I have formally investigated hundreds and hundreds of avalanche accidents; co-authored the 4th volume of The Snowy Torrents. Currently, I am writing the 5th volume (to be published next fall) of The Snow Torrents -- US avalanche accidents from 1987 to (maybe) 2007. Besides RECCO and other things, I also serve as the vice-president to the Avalanche Rescue Commission of the International Commission for Alpine Rescue. Professionally, I have worked with and around avalanches since the early 1980s.

    To Mtspring:
    The RECCO System is not a substitute for a transceiver (see myth 1 below); however, our system provides pretty decent security at most of the avi-prone resorts in North America. At most resorts RECCO is now part of the first response, this was not true even a few years ago. Reflectors (should always have two) integrated into clothing, boots, helmets are better, but adhesive-backed reflectors -- sold in pairs -- are available from mountaingear.com. Keep in mind that no device -- transceiver, RECCO, airbag, AvaLung, etc -- guarantees survival. Even with transceivers mortality is about 50%, and this year it has been much worse. RECCO reflectors provide a basic and inexpensive rescue system, but knowledge most important. Take the time for you and your kids -- like some of the writers posted -- to get educated about avalanches, always buddy up when riding, and also visit and talk with patrollers about conditions too. Just like in the backcountry, this winter has served as a tragic reminder that some days are better than others to visit steep terrain.

    Here are some common myths about RECCO.

    1. RECCO replaces the transceiver.
    
FACT: RECCO supplements the transceiver. We want and encourage people to get and learn how to use transceivers. The beacon is the best tool for companion rescue. RECCO is a system when someone needs more help than their friends can provide.

    2.I already have a transceiver, I don’t need RECCO.

    FACT: Even experienced skiers/riders forget to carry or turn on their transceiver. We are human and thus fallible. RECCO provides a basic, simple and inexpensive rescue system for all: from newbies ignorant of avalanche dangers (therefore will never have a transceiver) to the super-experienced and savvy who makes a mistake.

    3. RECCO adversely affects avalanche rescue beacons. 

    FACT: No. The two systems work on very different frequencies and cause no interferences. In fact the Barryvox VS 2000 Pro transceiver (sold in Europe) has a RECCO reflector inside the beacon. RECCO’s new detector also has a beacon receiver, so one rescuer can do both jobs.

    4. I can just put a RECCO reflector in my pocket.
    
FACT: Please don’t. The adhesive-backed reflectors are designed to work best when attached to hard-shell boots or helmets. With soft-shell snowboard boots the reflector can also be placed in between a boot shell and liner. Simply dropping a reflector into a pocket can dramatically reduce system performance. Reflectors integrated (on the inside or outside) on jackets, pants, boots, helmets, body protection are specially designed and placed for this application. We also recommend that people wear two reflectors.

    5. Gives a false sense of security.

    FACT: Some people will use safety equipment -- including beacons -- as an excuse to engage in riskier actions. How many of us -- myself included -- have skied a steep slope with pretty suspect instability just because we wore a transceiver and were with good friends who carried big shovels? Education is our best defense and RECCO works hard to motivate people to get educated about avalanches.

    6. Organized rescue is too slow.
    
FACT: Organized rescue is getting faster because:
 A. cell phones B. helicopters C. proximity D. new search technology

    Organized rescue has gotten much faster in recent years; however, rescue teams are still stymied by having to use probe poles to find about half of all buried victims. A probe pole is like using a needle to find another needle in a haystack. Today’s search times (in the US) by organized rescue teams are only slightly faster than avalanche search times (time spent searching) in the 1980s. When the results of the few avalanche rescue dogs cases are removed, the times are nearly identical. Transceivers and RECCO can search areas in minutes that can take hundreds of rescuers many hours to probe. Rescue dogs are much slower, but still many times faster than a probe pole.

    The best example of a fast rescue occurred last April in Colorado when a cornice collapsed beneath a snowshoer. She was buried with a hand out but could not be seen by her companion. A 911 call sent a helicopter with rescuers who found her, evacuated her to hospital, and returned to search for her companion before he was even able to reach the avalanche debris.

    7. RECCO only finds dead bodies.

    FACT: RECCO finds people, dead and alive. Every year we find a few people alive (in Europe), which makes them and their families pretty happy. For years RECCO was used in the secondary (or later) levels of a search. When used one, two, three days (or later), it’s no surprise RECCO found dead bodies, but an interesting trend was noticed. Once the detector arrived on scene the searches were taking only minutes.

    8. Too few places equipped with detectors.

    FACT: Worldwide more than 600 rescue bases are equipped with detectors. In the US and Canada we have equipped about 120 resorts (click here for a list). Many more organizations, especially SAR teams, in North America are slated for detectors.

    I hope I have provided some answers and information. If anyone has questions, please contact me by PM or via recco.com. Thank you for taking the time to read this message.

    Think Snow,
    Dale Atkins
    RECCO AB

  3. #53
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    Oct 2003
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    Colorado
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    Thanks for the info.

  4. #54
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    Apr 2007
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    Beartooth Mtns.
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    Thank you Dale, I very much appreciate your input.

  5. #55
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    Nov 2007
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    sfbay
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    Welcome Dale. good points. get your family beacons, AND some RECCO stuff. BCA trackers can be found just under $200 from time to time. A stiff investment for sure, but only you know what it right for your family.

  6. #56
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    Mar 2008
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    the ham
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    Thumbs up

    Yeah, thanks Dale. Good info there.

  7. #57
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    Nov 2003
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    das heights
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtsprings View Post

    At a resort:
    Does recco provide enough detection ability to be useful vs. beacons?
    What is the most practical way to outfit all five of us with recco? Would I have to get everyone a new piece of outerwear or is it sold within undergarments or are the reflectors available by themselves?
    Knowing that we ski inbounds and that I would be buying 5 what would be an economical beacon and how economical would that be (I know mtlion was selling some earlier this year anyone know if these are still available).

    Any insight from the maggots & experts here on the board would be appreciated.
    Well this one is a no-brainer. Beacons trump recco, provided the user knows how to use a beacon. "You get what you pay for" is a great way to sum it up. It's your call to make the justification on spending 1,500 on beacons vs. 200 on recco reflectors... but it dosen't seem like it should be that difficult.

    Becaon recomendation

    Lower end: Tracker DTS

    Higher end: Pieps DSP

    PM me if you want, I can help you with choosing a beacon.

  8. #58
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Funkytown
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    Thanks very much for the information on the Recco system, and all of your work on avalanche safety.

    In the interest of complete information, and since you volunteered, I have to ask follow up questions regarding your statement that,
    Quote Originally Posted by Dale Atkins View Post
    Reflectors integrated (on the inside or outside) on jackets, pants, boots, helmets, body protection are specially designed and placed for this application.
    My impression is that the harmonic reflectors consist of a Schottky diode (to generate the second harmonic of the transmitted signal), and a foil or wire antenna (with the length optimized for the transmitted fundamental and reflected second harmonic frequencies.) How and why would the sewn in reflectors be designed differently from the stick on reflectors? A different diode? A different length or shape of antenna? Or just different packaging? Is there an engineering difference or a marketing difference?

    Specially placed, how? The obvious possible impairments to the signal are the water in the human body absorbing the signal, and metal objects blocking and reflecting the signal. Helmets and boots seem best because they’re less likely to be torn off, one or the other may end up close to the surface, and the reflector is less likely to be blocked by the torso. For a stick on reflector in a pocket without metal objects, that’s in roughly the same location as one sew into clothing, is there an engineering difference or an education difference?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.
    Last edited by Bozo T. Clown; 01-06-2009 at 05:35 PM.

  9. #59
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    Seattle
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    Recovers Extremely Cold Corpses Eventally

    Did anyone beat me to it?

    Edit: make that Occasionally
    Last edited by PNWbrit; 01-06-2009 at 06:30 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  10. #60
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    Nov 2003
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    Colorado
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNWbrit View Post
    Recovers Extremely Cold Corpses Eventally

    Did anyone beat me to it?


    I guess, I'll have to report you to the AAAAA (American Association Against Acronym Abuse).
    Last edited by Hacksaw; 01-06-2009 at 06:18 PM.
    "True love is much easier to find with a helicopter"

  11. #61
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    8

    answering some questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Bozo T. Clown View Post
    ...How and why would the sewn in reflectors be designed differently from the stick on reflectors? A different diode? A different length or shape of antenna? Or just different packaging? Is there an engineering difference or a marketing difference?

    Specially placed, how? The obvious possible impairments to the signal are the water in the human body absorbing the signal, and metal objects blocking and reflecting the signal. Helmets and boots seem best because they’re less likely to be torn off, one or the other may end up close to the surface, and the reflector is less likely to be blocked by the torso. For a stick on reflector in a pocket without metal objects, that’s in roughly the same location as one sew into clothing, is there an engineering difference or an education difference?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.
    Great questions and your on the right track. The reflectors aren't any different. The packaging is different but for engineering (signal performance) reasons. The integrated reflectors (jackets and pants) have a thin foam backing which is critical to enhancing the signal because the water in the human body absorbs the signal. The adhesive-backed reflectors don't have this backing. When used on boots or a helmet there is no problem because the reflector is kept quite distant from the body. But, when an adhesive-back reflector is dropped into a pocket, the reflector can be pressed very close to the skin and this can significantly impact system performance. It's amazing but a little bit of foam backing goes a long ways to improving the performance.

    The location of reflectors on a garment/person is very important. Helmets are a great place for reflectors, especially because of the detectors' directional signal. As a rescuer, when finding a helmet, you're digging right to the head and chest. Though boots are at the opposite end of the body, a couple of quick probes can give an experienced rescuer the victim's orientation. You have likely noticed that in garments our reflectors are placed on either the upper arm, back of the neck, or lower leg. These locations limit/minimize the possibility of signal blocking by the torso. The locations have been determined from a lot of squirming-around-type tests.

    Back to the water-thing...some of you might be thinking, "OK, the human body is mostly water and it can block the signal, and snow is composed of water, so doesn't snow cause problems?

    Liquid water attenuates the signal, but snow (ice) is a solid so it's not a problem. In the spring time or during a rainy Northwest-kinda of storm -- when liquid water is present -- the range is reduced , but rescuers are trained to adapt their search strategies with the detector to match moist or wet snow.

    Hope this helps.

  12. #62
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Darby Canyon
    Posts
    22

    recco vs beacon

    Good input! Thanks for all you have done in the avalanche world: So it is beacon#1 Recco#2 and bacon at #3. thanks again for your service!

  13. #63
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Anchorage
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    9

    no bic for you

    Quote Originally Posted by Tye 1on View Post
    Are they trying to melt glass bricks with a lighter?

    damn, that could take a while. Even for a ninja.
    Chuck Norris wouldn't need a lighter

  14. #64
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    North East
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    148
    Quote Originally Posted by powderdave View Post
    Although aftermarket RECCO reflectors are available, strongly consider outfitting with beacons. The new Pieps Freeride (single antenna digital) would be an excellent choice for someone unlikely to be involved in a search.
    I would agree on the BCA Freerides being a good solution for the all of you for several reasons; 1 - cheaper then most/all 2 - Assuming kids wont be able to assit fully, searchability effectiveness is minimized (so no need to spend on a top notch 2/3 antenna model) 3 - if you remain within the resort and an accident happens, there will be much greater searcher support than in the BC, so transmit should be priority over receive.

    Im personally having the same thought process, going to purchase a reliable and accurate beacon next week for this years westerly trips and the future.

    Good luck and be safe!

  15. #65
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    Apr 2007
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    Beartooth Mtns.
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  16. #66
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    Jun 2006
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    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
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    Pieps freeride is written up in this months Backcountry magazine that I got yesterday. I only glance at the review, but it looks like a great, cheap, very light beacon for your purpose. I would not want it is a primary beacon in a group, but it is a nice secondary choice for kids or guided groups.

    It may severe your purpose now, but think about what some of the kids will be doing in a year or three. Will they need full function beacons by then?

    The BCA tracker may still be the best inexpensive beacon for all around use.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  17. #67
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    Oct 2003
    Location
    East Coast
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    Quote Originally Posted by gretch6364 View Post
    The one thing that gets me about RECCO, is there is no way to turn it off. If I witness an Avy and start a beacon search and then patrol shows up with the RECCO finder....if I have RECCO on my jacket, I have to top my search so they don't pick up my signal right?

    I am guessing that patrollers are not suppose to have RECCO transmitters on their person because it will interfere right?

    I am going to purposely avoid buying anything with a RECCO tag for now and just always wear my beacon....seems easier to me.
    This is big for me. I added Recco to my boots last season. I am thinking about removing them because of this. Didn't someone post about this in the inbounds Snowbird avi thread? Does any one else have anything to add on this?
    Fresh Tracks are the ultimate graffitti.
    Schmear

    Set forth the pattern to succeed.
    Sam Kavanagh

    Friends of Tuckerman Ravine

  18. #68
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Jackson
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    246
    Quote Originally Posted by mtsprings View Post
    I talked to ptex1 today about getting some beacons. He is going to look into it and said he would help me organize a group buy. I will keep everyone posted.
    Any update? I'm about to pull the trigger on one but if you got a group buy going.......

    Thanks!

  19. #69
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    Jan 2005
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    Access to Granlibakken
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    3. [Myth] RECCO adversely affects avalanche rescue beacons. 

    FACT: No. The two systems work on very different frequencies and cause no interferences. In fact the Barryvox VS 2000 Pro transceiver (sold in Europe) has a RECCO reflector inside the beacon. RECCO’s new detector also has a beacon receiver, so one rescuer can do both jobs.
    I am still amazed at how many people 'have been told' by an 'expert' that RECCO interferes with avy beacons. it's one of those stupid myths that refuses to die.

    I'm going to phone up Obama and ask him to require that in the future every single citizen will have to get an engineering degree. This would clear up a lot of stupid myths and urban legends.

  20. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by H-man View Post
    This is big for me. I added Recco to my boots last season. I am thinking about removing them because of this. Didn't someone post about this in the inbounds Snowbird avi thread? Does any one else have anything to add on this?
    I have commented about this in a few places, but it is not a major problem. 'Trollers do not have Recco for this reason, but the signal picked up by the Recco detector is very directional, not a flux line signal like with beacons. So unless you are standing directly between the reflector and detector, and keep moving to maintain the angle it should not be a big problem. In the Mammoth avi I was involved patrol asked who was wearing Recco (which I was), then just ignored my signal.

    If you do a lot of avi rescue work it could be a problem, but for the rare situation most of us are likely to be involved it, it is not a big problem. If you are in SAR or on patrol somewhere I wouldn't wear Recco, but for the average skier Recco is a nice back up. Also as posted above, it appears Recco is starting to show up in beacons as well.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  21. #71
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    Feb 2008
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    Scralpine Ghettos, Ca
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    84
    does anyone know if having a radio signal pass, like at squaw or copper (fasttracks/beeline respectively) interferes with the beacon signals. I would assume the passes are on a different frequencies than beacons, and this would have no effect on recco shit. right?

  22. #72
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    Jan 2008
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    truckee
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    out of curiosity--how do dogs compare in search speed to RECCO and beacons. Obviously they have the same disadvantage as RECCO--you have to wait for them to arrive -- I'm asking about speed once they're on the scene. (I feel like the yellow jacket I wear gives me advantage in being found by a dog.)

  23. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by HingeFootCutFace View Post
    does anyone know if having a radio signal pass, like at squaw or copper (fasttracks/beeline respectively) interferes with the beacon signals. I would assume the passes are on a different frequencies than beacons, and this would have no effect on recco shit. right?
    Recco is 917 and 1834 mHz. Avi transceivers are 457 kHz. RFID tags are usually at frequencies between 7 and 14 mHz depending on manufacturer / intended use etc. So no interference/overlap between any of those things. However, cell phones are another story. They operate between 824 and 1990 mHz.

  24. #74
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    8

    recco and cell phones

    Quote Originally Posted by pisteoff View Post
    ...However, cell phones are another story. They operate between 824 and 1990 mHz.
    You're right about the freqs and the ranges. While we operate within the band range of mobile/cell phones we operate on different frequencies, so there is not a problem for either RECCO reflectors/detectors and cell phones (and/or transceivers too).

    Dale Atkins
    RECCO AB

  25. #75
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    Oct 2003
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    bozone montuckey
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    and for a little laugh, a friend of mine was asking me the difference between RECCO and beacons the other day. i explained passive vs active and what a beacon did and what RECCO did. he said 'oh, so i guess that's why the beacon check at the bottom of slushmans didnt beep when i waved it over this' and pointed at the RECCO patches on the legs of his pants.

    and by the way, he's an engineer.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    Ben Franklin

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