Searching For Avalanche Victims

Avalanches > Search and Rescue > Searching for Avalanche Victims

This section covers searching for avalanche victims using a transceiver and probe. This section provides a basic guide to different search techniques with digital and analogue avalanche transceivers. Refer to the documentation that came with your transceiver for more detailed information about the various indicators. Remember it is better to avoid avalanches in the first place.


(Rechercher une victime d'avalanche avec l'aide d'un ARVA - Version Français)

Before You Start - Testing your Transceiver

It is a good idea for any group going off piste to appoint a leader. The leader's job is to ensure that everyone is wearing their avalanche transceiver appropriately and that it works in both search and transmit modes.

Initially the leader will set his avalanche transceiver to transmit. The rest of the group will check that their transceivers can detect the leader's. This should be done from a reasonable range, at least 10 meters. Assuming this test passes the leader will put his transceiver onto search on the lowest amplification (if appropriate) and the rest of the group will go to transmit. Each member of the group should then either walk or ski past the leader. The leader should check that he can receive the beacon paying attention to the range his beacon locks-on. Finally the leader will go to transmit as well.

It is wise to repeat this process after a lunch stop in a restaurant or refuge to make sure that batteries are still in good shape and that transceivers have not inadvertently been set to the wrong mode.

At the end of the day

Don't forget to turn the transceiver off at the end of the day and remove batteries if storing for long periods. If you have some spare time this also a good period to practise using your beacon.


It is recommended that only Alkaline batteries should be used in avalanche beacons. These have a long life, work reasonably well in the cold and give good warning before they die. They also leak less than saline batteries. Rechargeable batteries should not be used, they don’t like cold and give little warning before running out of juice.

Pay particular attention to battery fit. There can be variations in the length and width of batteries. Ortovox? has identified problems with their M1 and M2 avalanche beacons with certain types of batteries that could result in the beacon malfunctioning after a blow.

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