Long time Alta Ski Patroller Dan “Howie” Howlet has had a long standing relationship with Recco. So it was fitting for Alta to host Recco for a rescue demonstration day. Planned activities included a morning of skiing around with Alta Ski Patrol for a tour of some of their avalanche mitigation tools. A Recco demonstration was planned for the afternoon with the Department of Public Safety flying their helicopter up from SLC International to demonstrate how Recco reflecting technology works.
The morning was cold and still a bit windy so the helicopter portion of the day was in jeopardy. We all hiked to the shack on top of Wildcat Bowl to first tour the Howitzers. After a couple groomers we made our way over to see the three new shock wave devices perched on East Baldy, and the launcher above Cecret Lake used to control Devil’s Castle
Winds died down quick and the chopper pilot called in the go ahead and we saw them flying in just a half hour later. Lunch was planned at Watson’s Grill for further discussion on the history and future of Recco. Right afterwards we all met up at Albion base for a cat ride up into Grizzly Gulch to wait for the helicopter rescue demonstration.
The demonstration itself was conducted up in Grizzly Gulch. Backcountry traffic was shut down for the afternoon so DPS (Department of Public Safety) could safely fly their helicopter equipped with a 200 lb hanging Recco detector in search of a target that Howie from Alta Ski Patrol had previously hidden.
The cat dropped us off halfway up the Gulch and we watched as the DPS helicopter circled the area closing in on the target. Once they zeroed in the first mate dropped their marker and Howie immediately got excited as he saw the marker was dropped within 25 feet of the target. At this point the chopper grounded and the handheld Recco detector was used to find the target hidden in the snow. The entire thing took around 10-12 minutes although I wasn’t using a stop watch that’s only an estimate. This concluded the demonstration and we all skied back to Goldminer’s for beers and goodbyes. All in all a very informative day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *