Beacon Practice

Practice Sites
Avalanche rescue gear is useless without understanding how to use it. A real avalanche rescue is terrifying, stressful, and chaotic. To save your partner's life when you only have a few minutes requires beacon, probing, and digging practice. Regularly practicing complete rescue scenarios, i.e., locating, probing, and digging up a buried beacon is critical. That is the best way to find weaknesses in your equipment or technique, like a probe that won't stay locked together or the frustration of digging straight down and finding yourself standing on your partner's head in a hole too small to work in.
Beacon parks provide an easy, convenient way to practice your skills. The parks are free, open to the public, simple, and always on and available. Each park may be a bit different but all are easy to use and have instructions. They have switches to turn on one or more buried transceivers. Once the unit is on and you've switched on the desired number of transceivers, you'll go through the rescue process step by step: use your beacon (in search mode) to pinpoint the buried unit, then pull your probe out, assemble it, and probe for the target. Most units will beep when struck to indicate that you are on target. Please do not dig up the buried transceivers. With regular park maintenance, the units will be moved from time to time. To practice digging techniques, have you or your partner bury a pack with a beacon stuffed in it. This can be done anywhere. And the deeper the practice burial the better - you'll gain greater confidence in your skills with harder problems.
It is important to begin your search just as you would in the backcountry - with helmet, goggles, and gloves on, beacon inside your zipped jacket, probe folded in your pack, pack on your back. That will help you find problems like difficulty in getting your beacon out and switched to receive with mittens on, difficulty getting your probe securely assembled, etc.
Below is a list of current beacon parks in Utah. Click on the site you want to visit to find more information: