If you ski, snowboard or snowshoe in the backcountry, you know that you and everyone in your party should carry the essential pieces of safety gear: at minimum an avalanche transceiver (also called avalanche beacon), a probe, and a shovel – and some would now swear by their AvaLungs and/or ABS avalanche airbag systems. Ortovox will soon release a new avalanche transceiver that will increase your chances of being recovered in the event of an avalanche, simply by cutting out weak signals that might lead your rescuers astray.
The Ortovox 3+ utilizes a new, Smart Antenna system. Intelligent sensors in the device instantly detect that you have been buried in an avalanche, then analyze your exact position. The sensors decide which of the three transmission antennas in your device has the best reception and coupling to the searching unit (depending on your orientation in the snow), then automatically deactivates the other two. By doing this, the searcher is lead on the optimum route to you, noticeably reducing the search time.
The Ortovox 3+ LCD display shows in real time the distance to, direction and position of the buried victim. A circle shows you at a glance if you are getting closer to the buried signal source or farther away. Search acoustics enhance the visual representation by increasing or decreasing in pitch within the area of the refined search.
The LCD can also display up to 3 buried victims-when switched into search mode, the number of victims will light up on the bottom of the screen. As soon as the first one has been found, the particular transceiver can be marked with the simple push of a button on the front panel and blocked out so you can focus only on the next two.
The Ortovox 3+ weighs less than 200 grams and will transmit for up to 250 hours on one single AA battery. The avalanche beacon will retail for $349/€289 and be out this Fall 2010.
Note- avalanche transceivers are not a substitute for understanding snow conditions, route finding and a willingness to turn back if conditions just aren't right!