For avid skiers, there is nothing more exciting than heading off the trail and into the backcountry. But along with the opportunity to ski untouched powder and explore remote slopes comes a few inherent dangers, not the least of which is the potential for avalanches. That danger is all but eliminated when you stay on the perfectly groomed trails of popular ski resorts, but venture into the wild and the possibility of triggering a slide becomes much more likely. To avoid these potential disasters, a company called Mountain Hub developed a new high-tech tool designed to keep skiers safe, even when they are venturing out into uncharted territory.
At first glance, the Scope ski poles look a lot like any other set you might see someone using on the hill. They are lightweight, durable, and built to perform well, even in deep powder. But, these ski poles have a few hidden secrets that make them an excellent choice for use in the backcountry as well. For instance, the poles have a hidden snowpack probe built right in and Bluetooth connectivity that connects them to your smartphone for real-time analysis of snow conditions too.
The Scope’s integrated snowpack probe is a modified version of Mountain Hub’s SP2, a device designed for snow safety professionals, including mountain guides and search and rescue teams. The SP2 is a dedicated probe that can sense changes in pressure in the snow and alert skiers, snowboarders, and mountaineers to potential danger. That same technology has been shrunk to fit inside a ski pole and thus the Scope was born.
Avalanches often occur when a sheet of thick, heavy snow sits on top of a layer that is lighter and less dense. This type of layering can cause the snow to become unstable, with any movement on the surface causing the entire section to shift and slide down the slope. Large avalanches can potentially bring hundreds of tons of debris raining down the side of a mountain, leaving a wave of destruction in its wake and burying skiers under thousands of pounds of rubble. Needless to say, an avalanche can be extremely dangerous, as the slides claim the lives of more than 150 people each year.
But by placing one of Mountain Hub’s snowpack probes into the snow, the device is able to detect the subtle changes in pressure that are not evident from the surface. The probes can then alert skiers which sections are prone to slides, allowing them avoid those areas and remain much safer in the backcountry as a result. In the case of the Scope ski poles, that information is displayed directly on your smartphone thanks to the Bluetooth connection and a custom app for iPhone and Android.
The Scope poles hold a lot of potential for skiers, many of which don’t carry a probe at all or may leave it at home on purpose rather than take another item with them when they head out to the backcountry. But with Mountain Hub’s design, the probe is with us at all times and ready to provide important safety information. Essentially, the company eliminated our excuses for not taking a probe with us.
Unfortunately, we will have to wait a bit longer to get our hands on this device. The Scope is expected to make its official debut at the Outdoor Retailer convention held in January in Salt Lake City and is not expected to go on sale until the fall of 2017 with an MSRP of $499. You can pre-order a set now, however, for $350.
Find out more at MountainHub.com.