Remember RECCO, the tiny radar transponders you’d find attached to ski boots and jackets a few years ago? I thought that stuff had died — apparently not. MountainZone.com reports the North Shore rescue team in Vancouver, BC is high on the system. “More people are skiing with this type of device now,” says a member of the rescue group.
Let’s get real here. To locate a person wearing a RECCO, you need an expensive and bulky radar unit that’s best operated from a helicopter. In other words, if you’re in a bad way, e.g., buried in an avalanche, you’ll probably be dead before anyone finds you using RECCO. Nonetheless, go to the RECCO website and you see the emphasis their marketing places on avalanche safety. I can see this device as being useful for finding people who are lost in the wild, especially children, but to even use it in the same sentence as the word “avalanche” is disingenuous.
It’s useful to be sure, but other than in isolated cases RECCO is not a live avalanche rescue device.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.