I had a very disturbing incident this weekend and thought I should pass it on to the group as a reminder to be more careful. Yesterday, Julian, Julie, Kevin, and myself headed up Teton Pass to check out conditions on Mt. Oliver. I was stoked because I knew conditions would be the best of the year. In the parking lot, we all put on our beacons and started giving them the usual pre-ski test. Mine is an older Ortovox F1 analog beacon. I’ve been meaning to replace it with a modern digital one, but though a combination of laziness, tightwadedness, and inertia I’ve never gotten around to it. I turned mine to receive and picked up the other three pings. As Julian turned on his new, shiny Mammut beacon, he picked up only two beacons, Julie’s and Kevin’s. Mine didn’t show up in the initial sweep. So he walked over and stuck his beacon next to mine and it picked it up, but it never gave the “you’re getting close” signal. We kind of blew it off, figuring it was getting confused with the other 2 signals. So we headed up the hill into one of the best ski days of the year.
After getting home, I started playing around with my spare beacon, and determined that my beacon was receiving perfectly fine, but it’s transmitting range was only 6 feet or so. It occurred to me that I’ve used it many times in receive mode for practice searches. But I can’t think if the last time I used it in transmit mode. And any pre-ski checks we did were just the way we did them on Oliver, everyone standing around in a parking lot with somebody sticking their beacon next to mine and saying “yep, you’re transmitting”. I honestly have no idea how long my beacon has been out of whack.
So I’m chalking this up to a lesson learned, and a mistake I won’t make again.