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Airbags, Beacons, and Probes....Oh my!
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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Jan 19, 2012
My navigator keeps me from getting lost
Buff Johnson wrote:
It's counter-intuitive -- you would not, meaning you will commit to an unacceptable situation because of the gear you have.


yeah, that's exactly what i'm admitting. i don't suspect that i'm telling you anything you don't already know in saying that human psychology and decision-making criteria are the root causes associated with most avalanche incidents.

edit to add: i also wouldn't commit to that crux move i can't reverse if a trusted friend weren't on the other end of the rope and that bolt below didn't seem solid. i will if those pieces are in place. but, there's always the possibility that the bolt isn't actually solid or that my friend will make his first big belay error.

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By TK421
From longmont, co
Jan 19, 2012
ok,

all good stuff. But unless EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the group has an airbag and decides to give up on the Beacon, probe and shovel I will never travel in avy terrain without everyone in my group having the tools. I ain't gonna go with you if you can't find my ass in slide. So the bags are good. keep you afloat. but I think you would be a bit naive to trust that one tool alone.

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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Jan 19, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.
Brian Abram wrote:
Sorry, that was directed at the post above yours. I posted that and your new one appeared above while I was typing. I should've quoted.

Deleted the above post for clarity. Some good reading on here!

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By jselwyn
From Grand Junction, CO
Jan 19, 2012
Like others have said already - a shovel, beacon, and probe can be had for much less than an airbag pack. If I were going out with someone and they pulled out the airbag pack but none of the other stuff, I'd go home. Having an airbag pack just helps stack the odds in your favor if you are caught in an avy. Having a shovel, beacon, and probe stack the odds in you and your partner's favor. Not having this stuff drops your chances.

I'd take a solid, well practiced partner with shovel, beacon, and probe over an airbag any day. Get that stuff then use the extra money and take an avy class.

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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Jan 19, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.
I've been trying to think of a good climbing analogy for the airbag pack's importance in your backcountry kit...
The best I can do is the airbag pack is sort of like a screamer that you put on a marginal piece of pro or ice screw you choose to climb past. It lessens chances that the pro will rip in a fall, but doesn't guarantee it.
In my mind, a shovel/probe/beacon are as essential to backcountry skiing as a rope and protection are to climbing. Hence the screamer seemed like an apt analogy.

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