A probe is anything you can use to poke into the snow in hopes of feeling the victim's body, such as wands, ski poles, ice axes, or commercial snow probe poles. Probing is a slow and uncertain mechanical process, but it's all there is in lieu of avalanche beacons. Probe first at likely areas— near pieces of the victim's equipment, at the marked points of disappearance, and around trees and rocks. Then set up a probe line.

The probe line must be highly organized and methodical. Searchers stand elbow to elbow in a line and insert their probes once between their feet. They take one step forward, uphill along the most likely search route, and probe again. Another step, another probe, each movement in unison at the spoken command of the leader. If a searcher hits something, they dig in that spot. After one run up the slope, the probe line moves to one side of the original course and probes some more, again starting at the bottom and probing uphill.

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Surviving the Wild Outdoors

Surviving the Wild Outdoors

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