Franz Bamert, journalist – It's almost like a conspiratorial meeting at the Gotthard Pass. Markus Wey called and a few selected outdoor journalists came. They know each other and especially Markus. He is a mountain guide, technical director of the Mammut Alpine School,
avalanche rescue dog trainer and above all, a true expert in the field of avalanche rescue. Since 1968, he has experienced six generations of avalanche transceivers and has co-developed the seventh, the Barryvox® S, with MAMMUT product specialists.
The Ferrari of avalanche transceivers
The result is the Ferrari of avalanche transceivers: The device is easy to handle and the display is larger with a higher resolution so that it is easy to read, even in difficult weather conditions. "But the most important aspects are," says Wey, "handling, precision and, above all, speed."
We are all experienced tourers and freeriders and won't be convinced by words alone. That's why everyone is given a Barryvox® S and straight away I experience my first surprise: no nervous random pressing of buttons and searching in submenus. The most important functions – i.e. switch on, transmission and search – are all operated by a single button. How I've cursed in the past, when, during practices, I have spent so long getting lost on individual menus that I've had to reboot the device! In an emergency that would have cost valuable seconds or even minutes and when you consider that the chance of survival in an avalanche drops to zero after 15 minutes... The Barryvox® S however, is self-explanatory – similar to a smartphone. "This simplicity of handling was almost the most impressive factor for colleagues and participants during the test phase," says Markus. The Barryvox® S has three extremely powerful antennas. These allow an avalanche area with a 70-m search strip width to be covered. The time until the first signal detection is significantly reduced. But most impressive is the search process. There isn’t just an arrow to indicate the direction of the buried subjects: the new Barryvox® S leads you to the destination similar to a sat nav. With centimeter accuracy and without the slightest time delay.
Avalanche transceiver instead of avalanche training?
That's all well and good. But does such a device not lead even more people to adventure too far into the terrain without any training or previous experience? Along the lines of: If the worst happens, I'll be alright with my avalanche transceiver? Markus dismisses this way of thinking: "No matter how good the avalanche transceiver is, it can’t replace serious training in the field," he says. Time and time again he experiences how, in an emergency, tourers or snowshoers don't know – or can't remember – how an avalanche transceiver functions and end up frantically pressing random buttons. Therefore, he strongly advises attending an avalanche course. Part of the training focuses on the correct handling of the device. "It's like driving a car," says Markus. "You have to learn how. And if you haven't driven for a couple of months, you need to familiarize yourself with the vehicle again."
Learning becomes fun
Older tourers remember such training courses with horror. It was like being back at army training school: waiting, freezing, standing around, getting bored. Markus laughs, "No, those times are over. We don't want to take the enjoyment out of snow sports – the opposite in fact. That's why we offer courses with a learning by doing concept. Even beginners take part in a tour straight away. This way they learn, for example, how to assess the terrain, the composition of the snow, its gradient as well as the weather conditions. Training also includes preparation for an emergency: Having finished the course, participants will know how to use a probe and shovel in case of an avalanche. And, of course, how to operate the Barryvox® S."