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Beacon Searching 101: How to use your avalanche transceiver during a rescue scenario

An avalanche in the backcountry has the potential to be devastating, but knowing how to properly use a beacon in a rescue situation can be life-saving. While it may seem complicated at first, practice makes perfect when it comes to understanding the ins-and-outs of using this vital equipment. With instruction from Backcountry Access’ Andy Wenberg, this video will provide a streamlined run-through of the four phases of an avalanche transceiver search—the signal search, coarse search, fine search and pinpointing or “probing.” In this video, you’ll see BCA ambassadors using the Tracker3 and Tracker S transceivers during the demonstrations, but these techniques can be used with any beacon on the market.


  • An avalanche transceiver has two main functions—sending a signal and receiving one.
  • The transceiver should ALWAYS be worn under your first layer of clothing.
  • Check the battery life of your transceiver before every trip into the backcountry.
  • TURN IT ON before you head out for the day and KEEP IT ON until you’re back to the trailhead.
  • Conduct a trailhead check before you hit the skin track to ensure every member of your group has a functional transceiver that can properly send a search signal.
  • If they’re close enough, electronic devices (cell phones, GoPros, etc.) can interfere with a transceiver’s search function—keep these devices at least 20 inches away from your beacon while searching and eight inches away from your beacon while transmitting.

For experienced backcountry users who want a quick refresher on beacon-use best practices or, for novices who want an overview of how to use this vital piece of safety equipment, hit play and take notes. But keep in mind that this video is meant to be used as a refresher course and is not meant to replace proper avalanche safety training.

Click here to enter the official FREESKIER Safety Week BCA Sweepstakes for the chance to win a Tracker4 Rescue Package or a FREE AIARE Level 1 avalanche safety course!

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