So chances are if you bought new outerwear, boots, or diamond encrusted goggles recently you’ve seen the Recco tag on some piece of snowboarding apparel. Maybe you’ve asked yourself what the hell is this thing and what does it do? Maybe you’ve said I’m paying more for something that’s probably fossilized annodized pixie shit. Either way you’ve taken notice of it.So what is Recco and how does it work? This is what their website has to say:
RECCO® is an avalanche rescue system utilized by more than 600 rescue organizations worldwide to assist in the efficient location of burials. RECCO technology enables rapid directional pinpointing of a victim’s precise location using harmonic radar. The two-part system consists of a RECCO® detector used by organized rescue groups, and RECCO® reflectors that are integrated into apparel, helmets, protection gear or boots. The reflector is permanently affixed, requires no training for use and needs no batteries to function.
Although similar in search procedure to transceivers, the RECCO system is not intended for self-rescue nor is it an alternative to transceiver use in the backcountry. Complementary in function, the system is an additional tool that does not interfere with other rescue methods such as avalanche dogs, transceiver searches or probe lines. The RECCO system facilitates a faster organized search for rescuers and provides skiers and snowboarders with one more chance to be found in time.
Early last week Recco actually saved someones life. Just like they said it’s not a substitute for a transceiver or even good old fashioned common sense, but I never thought I’d see this thing get some real life use. My personal favorite statement I heard about Recco was from some dumbass who told me, “yeah bro I have Recco so you know, I can totally shred in the Backcountry (i.e. trees on the side of the run of a resort that will never have a slide) because you know ceivers are mad expensive and I’m too good to get taken out by an avalanche anyways.” Thinking like that leads me to hope they do die in their “backcountry” if only to lessen the over population of this planet.
Now it is nice to know that paying that extra price tag on all our gear might actually save our lives if something like what happened in Italy occurs. Here’s the blurb from Boardsport Source that caught my attention.
Tuesday, 22 December, the Valmorel ski patrol used a RECCO detector to locate an off-piste skier buried under 1.5 meters of snow. At about midday the English skier and her brother triggered a slab avalanche on the Col des Mottets. An avalanche about 20 meters wide and 300 meters long swept both down. The avalanche buried the brother to his waist and his sister deeper. Neither skier carried avalanche rescue beacons; however the woman had RECCO reflectors in her ski boots. The father used his mobile phone to call rescuers.
The first ski patrollers reached the site and started to search with a rescue bacon and a RECCO detector. The RECCO signal was quickly detected and pinpointed. Rescuers uncovered the woman after a 20 to 30 minute burial. Suffering from mild hypothermia the woman was flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital in Moutiers where she is recovering.
Good to know that if a resort has it and there’s a slide in bounds you just might survive. Personally I’d find it funny to rip all the chips out of my gear and make collars for squirrels and have them running around the resort. Imagine the fun of that.