Flathead Nordic Backcountry Patrol put up the “Are you beeping” signs at popular back country access points around the Flathead. The beeping refers to avalanche transceivers, or beacons, and these signs are part of an ongoing education effort.
“We’re trying to save lives. Ultimately, that’s the goal, and we hope it makes an impact,” Steve Burglund is a patroller and board member of the Nordic Patrol.
At the base of the signs is a small battery powered box that either lights up with a green “O” if someone passes by with an avalanche transceiver or beacon that’s working, or a red “X” when it doesn’t pick up any signal. Burglund said a couple of weeks ago he and a group were setting up one of the stations at the popular Flower Point access off of Whitefish Mountain Resort. They conducted an informal survey of skiers heading out of bounds and said in 90 minutes they saw 160 skiers and snowboarders, and less than 30-percent had beacons.
“That tells us there’s a, there’s a big portion of the skiing public that we still need to reach,” Burglund said.
The Nordic Patrol received two grants from the Northern Rockies Avalanche Safety Workshop totaling $3500. Each check station costs $750, and Burglund said they have plans for a wireless avalanche beacon park. The park would have six buried beacons and give people a chance to practice using their transceivers to find others.
The Nordic Patrol installed seven “Are you beeping” stations; three at back country access points on Big Mountain, one on the west side of Hungry Horse Reservoir, one at the Essex Trailhead, Marias Pass, and Canyon Creek up the North Fork.