Whether you’re a snowboarder or a skier, the day the mountain opens is the most exciting time of the year for all of us. Nothing compares to the feeling you get when you get your first ride in of the season. Working with Sutton Real Estate Whistler has helped me get closer to mountain culture and improve my skiing as well. While becoming better acquainted to mountain culture and community of Whistler I’ve taken a bigger interest in local events and issues.
Since the end of the summer, I’ve been seeing a lot of advertisements for smartphone apps that are marketed as cheap replacements for avalanche receivers. A little skeptical I decided to look into what the experts had to say about the newly developed apps and their reliability.
Experts on Avalanche Apps
On October 31st, Alison Taylor from Pique conducted an interview with Karl Klassen, Avalanche Warning Service Manager for the Canadian Avalanche Centre. Klassen, as well as his team were also skeptical about these “avalanche apps” and decided to do some research too.
The CAC found a series of problems with the apps that make them incapable of transmitting frequencies at the same level of genuine transceivers. The international standard for transceivers is 457 kHz, which allows communication even between different brands of transceivers. This also provides a signal strong enough for the devices to communicate with each other through packed snow and debris. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals emitted by smartphones don’t compare to the strength of real transceivers.
Keith Reid, industry insider and president of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides warmly welcomes the warning against smartphone apps. The concern is for the people that are under the impression that these smartphone apps actually work as transceivers because in reality, they don’t.
The second problem that the CAC found with these smartphone apps is that they are incompatible with each other. If you have three friends and you all have different apps on different platforms they won’t be able to communicate with each other.
It’s expected that a lot of younger people and those wanting to save money will opt for a five dollar app as opposed to a $300 to $500 dollar avalanche transceiver. Which worries industry experts and mountain guides because real transceivers undergo rigorous testing unlike avalanche apps. Ultimately, experts recommend an increased use of balloon packs for additional safety and that there is no replacement for genuine avalanche transceivers.
Considering available information on the reliability of these smartphone apps, it’s recommended you opt for a real transceiver instead. Of course, remember mountain sports are all about having fun, but safety is vital when heading up the mountain for a day of skiing or snowboarding. If you want to get closer to action and have some questions regarding current listings, feel free to contact me, your Whistler Real Estate agent.