It was brought to our attention by professional hillclimb racer and back country rider Rob Kincaid that cell phones can affect avalanche beacons that...

It was brought to our attention by professional hillclimb racer and back country rider Rob Kincaid that cell phones can affect avalanche beacons that are in the search mode. We were unaware of this conflict and two of our western test riders (Jeremy Barnes and Jerry Mathews) confirmed it by doing a test in their shop. They set one beacon across the room then set the other beacon to search mode and it led them directly to the other one. They then did the same test, but with a cell phone on the person with the searching beacon. The beacon began giving inaccurate (wrong) and changing directions. The test was performed again with the phone set in “Airplane Mode”, with the same results.

This is something we had never heard about. Presumably the radio frequency being used by the beacons for directional targeting is being affected by the radio frequency output of the cell phone, causing some form of interference. Often times the cell phone will be carried in close proximity to the becaon, thus the added chance for interference.

Bottom line, anyone riding in the mountains might want to try this test themselves and see what happens to see if your beacons are affected as well. You just might want to turn off your cell phones before heading out; it may save you, or your friend’s life.

From the Spring 2014 issue of SnowTech Magazine. To see all the great articles from SnowTech you have to be a subscriber to the magazine. Subscribe here – and have SnowTech delivered to your door.

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