The Evolution of Avalanche Beacon Technology

The Evolution of Avalanche Beacon Technology
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Filed Under: Ski

Have you ever wondered how avalanche beacon technology works?  Or even what people did out in the backcountry before modern beacons? Well, up until 1968, there were no avalanche beacons, at least not in the form we recognize today. Dr. John Lawton invented the first avalanche beacon in 1968 at Cornell and it was on the market in 1971. Ed Lachapelle, a well-known avalanche expert, worked with Lawton on his design and influenced the final product. The first beacon was called a Skadi, affectionately known as a “Hot Dog”, and it radiated a magnetic field by pulsing electricity through a copper coil.  The receiving unit picked up this magnetic field and produced a sound in an earphone which helped the user find the victim. Since then, the technology has evolved to work more quickly, with a longer range.  In 1986, there was an increase in the frequency of analog transceivers, so they had a wider range.  In 1997, Backcountry Access made the first digital.... Continue Reading at Snowbrains



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