I hardly ever carry a probe for day backcountry ski trips. I know this makes me a bad person and I’ll burn in hell for it, but I have my reasons.
- 1) Cheap lightweight probes are a disservice to humanity. They bend, break and don’t have the heft to punch through solid avalanche debris. If you are going to carry a probe, make it a good one (same thing with a shovel).
- 2) A good sturdy probe is bulky and weighs too much.
- 3) In the few avalanche burials I’ve been involved in, the victim was either partially exposed, or we were able to probe for him by turning a ski pole grip over and plunging it grip first, which worked.
- 4) I like to ski with small groups (two is preferred, four is the max) and if there is a burial, I’d rather spend the precious few moments searching with a beacon and digging.
- 5) If by chance I am part of a larger group, it’s a good bet that someone else has a probe.
This is an unpopular practice, but in my defense, I carried a probe for years before deciding to leave it out of my pack and still take one on all expeditions, or if I’m with a bigger group. For me, a probe is right on the cusp of “optional” equipment – somewhere between a shovel (required) and a helmet (personal choice). Your mileage may vary.
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Category: 02 Gear