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Avalanche Safety Items
By: John Walter

Besides avalanche beacons, there are other items that can enhance the safety and experience of your travels in the winter backcountry. We've included several items here to give you an idea of what other products you may want to consider when planning a trip.

Life-Link Snow Study Kit
To really know what the avalanche conditions are, backcountry travelers need to stop and make several tests of the snow and slope. The snow study kits from Life-Link help take the headache and worry out of these tests. The kits include plastic slopemeter, pit, and snow crystal cards that won't disintegrate when they inevitably get wet. A magnifying glass to study the snow crystals, and two dial stem thermometers round out the kit. All the items are packed away into a nylon pouch. The kits come in two versions: economical, which has a 5X magnifier, or pro which includes a 20X magnifier. http://www.life-link.com/

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Survival On Sno SB and Sled Bug
Canadian avalanche safety manufacturer Survival on Snow is offering two new avalanche products that are targeted to snowmobilers. The Sled Bug is a transmit only device that attaches directly to the wiring harness of a snowmobile, eliminating the need for batteries. This allows the snowmobile to be found by the SOS SB if buried in an avalanche. The SB is beacon that has all the features of the F1-ND, the traditional avalanche beacon from SOS, as well as an additional receiving frequency for the Sled Bug. http://www.sos-find.com/

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Backcountry Access Shovel/Probe Combination
When traveling in the winter backcountry, an avalanche beacon is essential. But two other items that need to be used in conjunction with a beacon are a shovel and an avalanche probe. Backcountry Access has introduced a shovel/probe combination, which integrates these items. The shovel is a high strength aluminum oval shaft with a concave aluminum blade. The six-foot avalanche probe folds up to be stored in the shaft of the shovel, eliminating the need to buy and carry these two essentials separately. http://www.bcaccess.com/

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Avalanche Rescue Beacons--A Race Against Time (Video)
If you plan on traveling in the backcountry you should have an avalanche beacon, and you should have a copy of this video. This video was created to teach backcountry enthusiasts the basics of how beacons work, as well as the basics of how to search for buried beacons using both the grid and tangent search methods, and how to search for someone not wearing a beacon. Produced by the professionals at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and People Productions, this video should be considered an essential. http://www.caic.state.co.us/

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Black Diamond Avalung
Any list of avalanche items wouldn't be complete without the Avalung from Black Diamond. Several years in the development and testing, this season is the first year that the Avalung is available. The Avalung is a vest that is worn over the outer layer of clothing. If caught and buried in an avalanche, the user is able to breathe from a mouthpiece that attaches to a filter which extracts oxygen (air) from the surrounding snowpack. The exhaled air is directed behind the user, eliminating the deadly ice mask and ensuring a large supply of usable oxygen. The Avalung is quite possibly the biggest innovation in avalanche safety since the invention of the beacons. http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/
http://www.avalung.com/

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John Walter (Walt) is the climbing editor at GearReview.com. Walt spends the winter frequenting the mountainous backcountry of Utah's snowy Wasatch Range.


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