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Avalanche probes for the pinpointing of victims

Avalanche probe for Victim Location

The Probe – usually a thrown probe, but there are other models – consists of individual collapsed segments which are assembled together, this saves space in your pack and can be assembled quickly. Avalanche probes are particularly robust and easy to use so that you can quickly find the victims of an avalanche. When searching with a probe you use both hands and stab with a 90-degree angle into the snow covering the signal of the victim.

  1. The material of the probe: Aluminium or Carbon
  2. Tension Mechanism of the probe
  3. Features of a probe

The material of the probe: Aluminium or Carbon

Manufacturers such as Mammut, Orthovox, Pieps and BCA use probes which are made from aluminium or carbon in different length. Carbon is much lighter, which can be advantageous when on longer tours. You should pay particular attention to the thickness of the probe because thinner probes tend to not be as strong and can distort during searching. We advise for tourers, freeriders and snowshoe hikers to go for a length of at least 230 centimetres.

Tension Mechanism of the probe

The individual segments of the probe are attached to a cable, and when this cable is pulled taught the probe is assembled. The Kevlar and or steel are used for the cable, with steel being the strongest material for the cable. Only with the right tension on the cable will the probe extend to the right length, then the cable is fixed on that tension, each manufacturer generally has their own way of doing this. Generally, screw caps can be quite time-consuming and difficult with gloves, so are best avoided.

Avalanche probes from BCA, Pieps, Black Diamond; Dakine, Orthovox and Mammut
Avalanche probes with different tension mechanisms

Features of a probe

On the probe, a scale is printed on the side in centimetres, so it’s easy to determine the burial depth of an avalanche victim. This is also useful for measuring layers In the snow when doing experiments on the snowpack. The tip is usually longer than the rest of the probe. The sharper or more pointed the tip is, the easier it is to probe through tough layers in the snowpack.

Tips and centimetre scales from BCA, Mammut and Ortovox Probes
Scales in centimetres and various tips on avalanche probes