After Jackson Hole ski patrol and mountain guides experienced multiple failures from the new BCA Tracker 2 avalanche transceivers this season, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort made a decision to return the resort’s fleet of Tracker 2s and pull the same units from retail shelves earlier this month.
“Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) has recently been made aware of potential problems with Backcountry Access’ (BCA) Tracker 2 avalanche beacons. As a result, and effective Saturday January 8th, 2011, JHMR has ceased sale and rental of the original Tracker 2 beacons, until we are confident that BCA has resolved the problems affecting these units,” JHMR Communications Manager Zahan Bilamoria told Teton AT earlier in January.
The units in the Jackson fleet were found to inadvertently go into a software reboot mode, where they would freeze and cease normal function. According to Bruce Edgerly, VP of marketing for BCA, engineers believe they have isolated the problem.
“The unit can build up static electricity and “reboot” when the static discharges. The units we’re shipping now contain a material that dissipates the static before it can build up.”
No one has a proven answer as to why the issue has been so concentrated among JHMR staff. However, one ski patroller speculated that since patrol and guide beacons are on all day, every day, any problems lurking in the units will appear faster under the increased stress than under usage patterns common to the general public.
Currently, the JHMR units have been replaced by BCA with transceivers containing the newer Version 4 software as well as the anti-static material, which will resolve the issue, according to BCA.
According to BCA’s website, “To determine if you already have version 4 software, disconnect and reconnect one battery while the unit is off. After displaying “t2,” the unit will then display the software version. If the display reads “r04,” then you have the most recent software. This software has been included in all Tracker2 units shipped since late December.”
Tracker 2 owners can also send their transceivers back to BCA for a free upgrade to be sure any future problems with any of the units are averted. BCA has not completed analysis of the returned JHMR fleet yet, and depending on the outcome, a recall through Consumer Products Safety Commission is possible. According to Edgerly, “in the meantime, we have executed what I believe to be a very proactive and responsible corrective action.”