/ Avalanche Transceiver - Euro Ice
Is it advisable to carry Avalanche Transceivers for a first Euro Ice trip? thinking Cogne, La Garve etc.
but say you were going as your first euro ice trip (I've climbed to grade V in the UK) would you buy one, or go hoping to do routes with simple approaches and buy one there if needed?
Are you in avalanche terrain?
Are you going to carry shovels and probes to dig each other out with?
Can you and your partner locate a buried transceiver quickly (<2mins) and know how to shift over a tonne of snow in less than 15 minutes?
If not, why bother carrying a transceiver?
It's unlikely your mate will be able to dig you out without a shovel and probe before you suffocate (typical burial depth 1m and 1 tonne of snow), assuming you haven't died from trauma.
As for body retrieval afterwards, the SAR team might find you when you melt out or - if you've got your mobile phone/electronic device/key fob - with a Recco.
In Cogne would you carry one including probes and shovels?
I've done an Alpine summer trip and lived in Scotland 6 years winter climbing, so I'm reasonably good with assessing which slopes are likely to be dodgey before I go out and also assessing which slopes are dodgey whilst out.
There is obviously new stuff for me to pick up in the Alps too mind.
"However I doubt many people use one for most routes at Cogne or La Grave and I don't think it would restrict your options too much to go without unless conditions were super-sketchy. There are heaps of routes at both those venues with safe access."
Thanks this was the info I was after!
I haven't seen any studies on this but I'd probably be more concerned about getting caught by an avalanche coming down on me whilst I was climbing from some slope way above that was catching the sun and that I couldn't see.
I try to manage terrain to minimise the hazard, but I'm aware that the kit is there for if it goes wrong. A quality aluminium shovel like the Voile XLM weighs 500g, a probe 300g; neither takes up a lot of space or is too heavy (a common complaint against carrying avalanche kit).
Yes, I practise searching and digging too. I'm also aware of the potential outcomes.
"I haven't seen any studies on this but I'd probably be more concerned about getting caught by an avalanche coming down on me whilst I was climbing from some slope way above that was catching the sun and that I couldn't see."
Yes this is one of the new dangers I was aware of that occur in the Alps but not not so much in Scotland. I guess there will be a few more for me to learn too tho'.
I have been to Cogne about 7 or 8 times and have never carried a trancieiver. I don't know anyone else who ever has either.
The ice falls are at low altitudes, however, there are feeder slopes above many of the ice falls and other slopes that you walk under when walking up and down the valleys.
These can sometimes be avalanche prone so be careful. You can get avalance forcasts and wheather bulletins whilst there. If areas are considered risky then it may be safer to go to stick to more safer areas regardless of whether or not you are carrying a tranceiver.
You don't need a tranceiver.
The chances of burial below the routes are not too high and if the slopes are that loaded you're unlikely to make it to the route anyway (30degree power swimming fun fun fun).
I have the kit, regularly practise (arva parks, burial drills etc.) and didn't take any of it when we went to Cogne last year.
Its s decent piece of kit
We've never carried them for the ice climbing in La Grave but have them for off piste skiing.... I suppose it depends on the approach but if weather and snow conditions are that poor we don't climb anywhere near routes threatened by big snowfields above. A lot of the approaches are in forests so it's only once you are on the route that you are exposed the the risk from above...
If we did get avalanched on a route they could always follow the rope to find us like a trail line!!!!
To my understanding, unless you know exactly how to use it and are willing to carry a probe and shovel too there is little point in carrying a tranceiver.
I think it's important to be very paranoid, but not to the point where you don't go out.
I certainly wouldn't advocate buying a transceiver for these two places, but, if you were also going to be skiing off-piste at La Grave then I would highly recommend using it for that.
Read the forecasts, be aware and review the "local risks" in the morning.
In Cogne, an avalanche is far more likely to kill you by sweeping you off the route or pelting you from above on the approach. Being buried then rescued is probably almost unheard of...
We must be in some alternate UKC...
In total agreement with this, but an additional bit of logic that might help the OP:
These are typical, not universal, observations...
In skiing (off piste) a high proportion of the sport is spent on or under slopes in the range of angles that avalanche. Skis allow a lot of ground to be covered, so the skier is exposed to a relatively large number of slopes, and wide route-planning and choosing options (you go a long way from the "known" conditions of your starting point and you get lots of choices how to come back.) Skis are also a natural cutting-tool for starting avalanches.
In climbing, more often you are walking directly the shortest way to the foot of a route. You're more likely to be post-holing up a slope - or the high side of a slope - that you've recce'd in advance than coming over a col and slicing a fracture line across a slope you've only just seen, and your slow progress (and intimacy with the snow...) will benefit your ability to keep a close eye on conditions underfoot. And you might only see the one slope in the day, if you come back down the same way.
Skiers are typically spending a lot more time at actually, or potentially*, higher risk - and in situations where an avalanche might be survivable.
*The trick being to have the skills to choose routes that allow you to get some nice miles done in conditions of actual safety without having to stop for an hour at every slope to hem and haw and dig numerous pits...
My pennies worth...
I've never climbed in La Grave but know Cogne reasonably well. I'm out there again in Jan next year. I will be wearing a transceiver, carrying a probe and a shovel as will the other guys in my group. We have them, we know how to use them if we have too... so we do!
A transceiver without a probe and shovel and knowledge of how to use them is (in my view) pretty pointless so I would recommend making sure that you and your climbing partner(s) have all got the right kit and make sure you slick using it if your going to take them with you.
Hope thats useful
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