PIEPS clinic on Dachtein glacier

Woohoo winter is coming!! Skiing powder again, steep lines, new projects for the season, a turn left and a turn right and down the hill we gooooo! 😀

But with all this, there also come the biggest danger in the mountains during the winter – !AVALANCHES!. So before we hit the slopes we need to check the stability of snow pack. And to master that, we need a lot of practice.

That’s why the trainings and preparations before the season are so important. Not just physical, that is just the basic. But learning about the snowpack, training with the beacon, knowing the terrain, all that and much more is really important when you are in the mountains. But to master that, we need a lot of practice. And the best places to learn that are different avalanche courses.

So this year, thanks to ACTIONMAMA, I was improving my knowledge at PIEPS clinic on Dachstein glacier.

I think you can imagine how it looks like when you let the kid go run around the playground and play with all the toys, do you? Well, it was quite the same here. So much stuff to look and test… Useful knowledge. 😉

 So on the glacier it was like in the forecast, snowy and foggy, but that wasn’t important. We came here with intention to learn something. 🙂 First 10 minutes was an introduction into the day and what will we be doing down on the glacier. When this boring part was finally finished, the real fun began. We were working in the groups, and our group was absolutely massive – 4 guys and a guide. 😀 (private session) Our guide, Rok Zalokar from Vertical Adventures Slovenia, first introduced us with the new products. Here on the blog I will write my opinion and for more informations you can check the webpage of the manufacturer. 😉

PIEPS MICRO, The new avalanche beacon from Pieps. It is the smallest 3-antenna transceiver on the market. Handling with it was really easy. And the reciving range is almost the same as in the specifications. It is designed so that it switches itself from transmitting mode in search mode. The “mark function” in search mode works really well. Another cool feature is that the beacon vibrates at first reception of the signal. Which comes really useful when we are searching the victims under the avalanche. (I hope you’ll never have to do this :)) The beacon support iPROBE II, (another new product) and it is connectable with smartphone via Bluetooth.


PIEPS iPROBE II, at first glance it is just like every other probe. But when you look closer you can see the “big black handle” at the top and individual aluminum rods are not connected with a steel rope but with the cevlar cable for extra stability and easy extension. The probe is automatically switched on when it’s assembled and turns off when it’s disassembled. On the probe handle is an optical and acoustical display which gives us informations. It also has a multiple burial function. If iPROBE detect a pieps transceiver under the snow the transceiver is automaticaly deactivated. The handling is te same as with the ordinary one, the user just need to know what all the lights and “beeps” mean. iProbe is avalliabe in 2 lenghts: 220 cm and 260 cm.

iPROBES and ordinary probes at the bottom

PIEPS SHOVEL C-660 and C-720, what went wrong here, was my first thought when I saw the shovel handle in the shape of a C. But later when I was using the shovel it turned out that the handle is very practical. It is designed to be used like a shovel or a hoe. When I was using the shovel it gave me a feeling that it’s quite durable. But there was not enough time to examine everything in details. The shovels are available in two sizes, the small C660 with the weight 660 g and the “big” one C720, yes you guessed it, its weight is 720 g. 🙂

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PIEPS 30°PLUS XT, that is a slope gradient indicator. For me this product is not very useful, but for some mountain guides and specially for those who test the slopes and snowpack for stability, ski patrol. It can be attached to any standard ski pole. It can also measure the temperature (°C and°F). And the most important “feature”, the battery can be replaced. The first generation didn’t have removable battery.

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PIEPS JETFORCE, the first airbag backpack with electronic system. Electricity from the battery runs a fan which inflates the 200l airbag in less than 3 seconds (we tried it). This is also a backpack with the biggest volume of airbag among all manufacturers. One important function is that in the event of a complete burial the 200l airbag will deflate itself after 3 minutes and made a 200l air pocket for breathing. The backpack was very comfortable on the back and it’s standing on one place if you make it tight. 🙂 It is available in three different sizes, 10l, 24l, and 34l.

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When the presentation was finished the practical part has started. First, we tested range of different beacons and function mark. The best combination was Pieps searching for Pieps. With some other beacons the range dropped drastically.

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Why? No one knows yet and they are working hard to discover that.

How does the avalanche beacon work? It broadcast an electromagnetic signal (457 KHz) and the “searching beacon” is receiving the signal. Usually when you’re searching the victims in an avalanche, we follow the electro-magnetic field lines that leads us to the signal source.

Electro-magnetic field

 Every manufacturer has its own flaws and benefits. But all of them are OK. The most important thing is that each individual master the equipment he is using!

The second task was searching and rescuing the victim from under the avalanche. Usual stuff. The most important thing here is that you stay focused, panic is the worst thing you can do, train on these skills all the time. It can mean the difference between life and death.
When digging out the victims I tested the new shovel with C grip which I alreay described. Shovel did the work perfectly.

Digging out the victim..

At the end we tested the Jetforce backpack. It inflates in less than 3 seconds, and with some practise you can fold it back into backpack in less than a minute. Rolling around with the backpack on, shaking etc. Overall it was an easy test in short 10 minutes.

Conclusion was in the same place as we started, with one difference. There were snacks ..:D Cupcakes,kaiserschmarren with vanilla sauce, strudel … Sorry, I’ll stop teasing you. 😀

See ya soon on snow and keep practising.. 😉


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