An avalanche burial search system typically deployed by ski patrols or rescue organizations in lieu of an avalanche beacon.

Credit: RECCO

RECCO is a two-part search system designed to find buried avalanche victims who aren’t wearing a transceiver. The system features an active detector, carried by a professional rescuer, and a passive reflector, built into the clothing or gear of a recreational user. The RECCO reflector is a small chip that can be integrated into jackets, snow pants, helmets, etc. It doesn’t need to be turned on and it doesn’t use batteries. The RECCO detector emits a directional radar signal, like the beam of a flashlight. When the radar signal hits the RECCO reflector, it is echoed back to the detector and points the rescuer in the direction of the victim. The closer the detector gets to the reflector the stronger the returned signal, ultimately allowing the rescuer to pinpoint the victim’s location. RECCO detectors are often deployed by ski patrols or professional rescue organizations during avalanche rescue, but RECCO reflectors are not a substitute for wearing an avalanche transceiver. Transceivers are the only suitable searching systems for companion rescue.

RECCO reflectors are built into some winter gear such as jackets or pants. Credit: Sport Conrad

Ski patrols and rescue organizations are usually equipped and trained for RECCO searches. Credit: Sport Conrad