Avalanche rescue gear is pretty useless if you can’t use it quickly and efficiently. A real avalanche rescue is terrifying, stressful and chaotic. If you want to save your partner's life - you only have a few minutes to do it. That requires beacon, probing, and digging practice. Regularly practicing complete rescue scenarios like locating, probing, and digging up a buried pack are critical. These drill are the best way to find weaknesses in your equipment or technique, like a probe that won't stay locked together or the frustration of digging straight down only to find yourself standing on your partner's head in a hole too small to work in.
Thanks to Exum Mountain Guides you have a great place to practice. Exum has installed the beacon training park (aka Beacon Basin) again this winter in Mail Cabin Canyon for public use. Exum has installed this park every year since 2004.
The beacon training park is located at the confluence of Trail and Mail Cabin Creeks in the meadow below Highway 22. Check out the map for the exact location. There are also two maps posted on trees, one across the road from Coal Creek parking lot and the other on a tree near the trail heading on up to Mail Cabin. Orange surveyors tape also helps to guide the way to the site.
“Exum feels it is important to practice perishable skills such as beacon training because all people become rusty over the non-skiing months. Rod Newcomb and Christian Santelices organized the first Exum beacon park in 2004 after the ISSW was held in Jackson Hole and we feel it is a great community service that is worth the effort.” - Nat Patridge, President, Exum Mountain Guides