White Pass Tracker Avalanche Transceiver Rescue

Requisite hero shot taken by a member of the Mountaineers in July 1990 as WD skied past during a first ski descent (solo) on the Adams Glacier on the north side of Mount Adams.

Here’s an inspiring guest blog from WD Frank, renowned biathlete of Yakima, Washington, who was rescued by his touring buddy, Rick Johnson, last year with a Tracker DTS.

February 25 marked the anniversary of my near-death burial in an avalanche at White Pass, WA, when my ski partner, Rick Johnson, used his BCA Tracker to find my BCA Tracker as I lay face down and unconscious under three and a half feet of snow. His cool nerves combined with our twenty years’ worth of practice saved my life — and I am convinced that the efficiency of the Trackers played a critical role as well. (My device was one of your original models — Rick had upgraded his, but I had not). Rick had no need to sort through gee-gaws, gimcracks, bells and whistles to get the job done: and it is my belief that the simplicity of the Tracker is one of the over-looked yet most important features of your product. I owe my life to the Tracker and I am very grateful indeed.

  • Avalanche injuries on my face, black and blue, the day after I was buried under three and one half feet of snow.
  • WD in the news.
    First climb your planned descent so you can preview snow conditions and potential avalanche hazards.  

Thanks as well for your newest Tracker 3 avalanche transceivers, which we brought on our trip to Canada last season. As you may have heard, the avalanche conditions around Revelstoke were unprecedented: we and other groups set off avalanches on 20-25 degree slopes all week long. Canadian heli-ski guides were reporting similar releases, some activated by rotor-wash alone.

Needless to say, the morning beacon drills were accomplished with renewed intensity, especially under the scrutiny of Rick who is nothing if not thorough in developing and practicing safety and rescue drills. I’m sure he will report to you in a future e-mail how the new Trackers outperformed all the other latest models of transceivers there. In one instance, Rick gave a skier with no experience a 3-minute talk about how to use his old Tracker. She then proceeded to beat the time of everyone else day after day in finding two buried transceivers during beacon practice.

Once again, I would like to express my confidence in and appreciation for your excellent product, which one year ago afforded me the opportunity to walk out of the mountains on a day that potentially could have been my last.



  • William D. Frank competed in the United States Biathlon Team Selection Trials for the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York and the 1981 Biathlon World Championships in Lahti, Finland, the United States Biathlon Qualification Race Series for the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, the United States Biathlon National Championships of 1979 and 1981, and the United States National Cross-Country Championships of 1985.

  • everyonetoskis-2

  • W.D. Frank is the author of “Everyone to Skis! Skiing in Russia and the Rise of the Soviet Biathlon.” Currently the most popular winter spectator sport in Europe, biathlon looms large in the history of global athletics, and in the event’s early narrative the Soviet Union was its most important player. William D. Frank, a former nationally-ranked competitor and a scholar of Russian history, is in a unique position to tell this story.