An avalanche beacon with NO SEARCH MODE!? Are you kidding me? No? You’re not kidding? Ah, then you have successfully invented and marketed the most dangerous piece of “avalanche safety gear” the world has ever know. Congratulations.
“Affordable mountain safety.”
That’s what the company Snow-Beacon is calling their new product: Snow-Be.
Snow-Be is an avalanche transceiver with ONE large catch. IT HAS NO SEARCH MODE.
ABOUT US = “SNOW-BEACON”:
“…James [snow-beacon founder] knew he needed to get his family kitted out with avalanche safety gear but was frankly put off by the cost.
Finding this situation completely unacceptable, he decided to make affordable avalanche safety gear himself and thus Snow Beacon was born.”- Snow-Beacon
YES!!! Someone finally said it! The lives of your family members just aren’t worth the cost of avalanche beacons! I mean, c’mon, who are these “family” people anyway and why should we worry about their “avalanche gear” or “safety” or “lives” especially if it’s inconvenient to our wallets?
WHY “SNOW-BE” IS IRRESPONSIBLE:
- No search mode
- You cannot locate a partner buried in an avalanche with a Snow-Be
- An experienced backcountry skier/rider would never accept a partner that uses a “Snow-Be”…Thus, you’ll always end up with unexperienced partners who also have “Snow-Bes” rendering you both absolutely useless towards each other’s rescue
- If there is an avalanche, and you aren’t buried, you cannot switch to Search mode to make sure rescuers aren’t searching for you. Sure, you could turn your “Snow-Be” off, but what if there is another avalanche? Then you’ve got No Beacon At All...
- Could provide you with a false sense of security that could put you into a potentially fatal situation
- Could get you past an avalanche beacon check point and dump you into serious avalanche terrain with no way to rescue anyone and clearly no knowledge of avalanches themselves and you likely won’t be with a knowledgable partner to rescue you if you do get into an avalanche
- No experienced backcountry skier/rider would ever use a “Snow-Be”
USING THE “SNOW-BE”:
Wearing the “Snow-Be” means that if you get buried in an avalanche, only someone with a real avalanche transceiver could potentially find you. But, if your partner has a Snow-Be as well, you’re shit outta luck as your “Snow-Be” HAS NO SEARCH MODE.
Does this product make any sense at all? No. Not at all.
You’re banking on the possibility that someone near you RANDOMLY has a real avy beacon and the ability to use it. The “Snow-Be” is no place to secure your life in avalanche terrain.
Besides, who in their right mind would wanna ski avalanche terrain with you if you have no knowledge about avalanches, are wearing a Snow-Be, and have NO POTENTIAL TO SAVE YOUR PARTNERS WHATSOEVER?
By wearing a Snow-Be, you’re declaring yourself completely useless in any avalanche situation. Your only hope if you get buried is that someone nearby has a real avalanche transceiver and that they have enough training to find you.
WHY WOULD THEY EVEN SELL THIS THING?
- It’s cheaper than a real avalanche transceiver ($75 versus $300 for a normal avy beacon)
- It provides “peace of mind”
- It targets “avalanche uneducated” people who are looking for something to calm their avalanche fears
I’m sure these guys have good intentions, but this seems like the worst idea in avalanche technology ever created.
DESCRIPTION of SNOW-BE:
“Your personal guide, or snow-be, faced in either pink or dark grey, is your way of transmitting your location at all times.
The snow-be is extremely simple to use, before you hit the slopes press the switch down for about a second and it starts to transmit. The green light flashes immediately after each transmission has been sent.
The snow-be is powered by AA batteries and, with new batteries installed, will transmit continually for up to 200 hours.” – Snow-Beacon
I dont’ even know where to begin with this statement by Snow-Beacon. Oh, wait, yes I do:
A: People are often missing clothing after being caught in an avalanche. You NEVER put an avalanche beacon in your pocket due to this prevalent fact. Instructing people to put an avalanche beacon in their pocket is extremely irresponsible.
B: They site 15 minute survival times…how is this product going to keep that period under 15 minutes? This product will extend you burial time due to you definitely not being with someone with a real avy beacon (who would ski with you if you didn’t have the potential to rescue them from an avy burial?)
C: Snow-Be is certainly no “personal guide.” It has more potential to do harm than good and that is not what any guide in any situation would do.
WHY WE [SNOW-BEACON] DO IT:
“The survival window for someone trapped in an avalanche is about 15 minutes.
Our aim is to give everyone the chance to survive an avalanche for only the cost of a day’s lift pass.
Fitting snugly in a zipped ski jacket pocket, anyone can carry one of our personal transmitters or “snow-be” as we like to call it.
Avalanches are deadly and, as high-lighted by the devastation in Chamonix in 2006, they can happen anywhere, even in resort. We therefore encourage you to carry your transmitter at all times, whatever your age.
Our active system sends out radio signals at the international avalanche beacon standard frequency of 457KHz, so anyone with an avalanche victim locator system, within range, has the capacity to track the signal. - Snow-Beacon
Please, do yourself a favor and DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT.
There are SO MANY aspects of this product that are unsafe that I cannot even confront them all. I’m going to gather all my thoughts on this and write another post about this product soon.
My only fear with writing this post is that I’m giving them publicity. I’m hoping this is an exception to the saying “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”
Since blasting this product in this post, “Snow-Beacon” has Greatly Modified their site including:
- DELETING the Founders Name…kinda “shady”
- CHANGING their Email Address
- CORRECTING the Product Description
Read our post on these “snow-beacon” website modifications here:
NO SEARCH MODE AVY BEACON “SNOW-BE” MODIFIES WEBSITE | FOUNDER’S NAME DELETED, EMAIL CHANGED, PRODUCT DESCRIPTION CORRECTED
Thanks to our Aussie brethren at AussieSkier.com for bringing this product to our attention.
**This post was originally posted at 10pm PST on May 22nd, 2012.**