Ideas needed: using an avalanche probe as antenna (-support)?

In winter I’m carrying the usual avalanche safety equipment which includes a 2m avalanche probe which is basically a collapsible 2m alu pole. So I thought instead of carrying the extra weight for safety reasons alone there must be a way to incorporate it somehow into my kw equipment. The Ideas I had so far are:

  • Combining the skis, ski poles and the avalanche probe to some kind of make-shift antenna pole. This would most likely only result in a pole of approx. 4m - 4.5m, mostly made of metal which could be problematic, too.

  • Adding a counter weight and a loading coil to use it as a shortened vertical antenna - without affecting the emergency usability of the probe, of course.

Any other ideas? Or is this a stupid idea anyway and I should keep radio and safety equipment disjunct?



In winter have been using a 3 metre avalanche probe for many years to support inverted V dipoles. You have to carry the probe anyway and it works well 20m SSB.




So the highest point of your antenna is 3m above ground or do you strap it to skis or ski poles to gain some hight?


Most important question: Do you have a rig with an internal ATU ? Like a KX2 ?
This will make things a lot easier.
Otherwise getting something “wobbly” undefined to be a reliable resonant antenna will be a challenge. Especially if we talk windy conditions.

With 2m (or 2,4 m like most probes) and a loading coil on the base I guess you can build a vertical for 20m. Use one radial with suitable ( 1/4 wavelenght - or try slightly shorter) on the ground.
You can use the ice axe or so as a holder for the coil (-box) and clamp in the probe to the box.

73 Joe


Here in Alberta, Paul VA6MPM has activated many mountains using antennas supported by hiking poles or avalanche probes. He describes how he uses them in the answer section of an interview he gave.


My 1st year I used my avi probe as a mast, along with a 20 metre dipole and 12’ RG-174. 30 activations all toll before buying a mast.

I attached a cable tie about 3 feet up, then clove hitch paracord above it for the guiding. dipole was attached by a “S” biner.



Why not use the equipment you have?

Maybe you can get some ideas:

73 Armin


Yes, the centre support is only 3m metres above the ground, often lower when the probe is pushed into the snow to keep it upright. I usually push the skis into the snow at either end if it is deep enough so the antenna ends are about 1 metre above the snow. If the snow is shallow I just lie the skis down and attach the dipole ends with long cord. In winter I usually use an FT817, so no ATU and use resonant wires for 20m and 40m.

If it is too windy I have even just laid the antenna wire stretched out on the snow - sit in a pit dug in the snow for shelter. Not great but still managed to activate the peaks.



I have used an avalanche diode as a transmitter. If only I had thought of using an avalanche probe as an antenna it might have worked better.

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Yes, a KX2. I gave up on the truSDX which I hoped to use in winter to save my KX2 from any skiing mishaps. :wink:

Hmm, that’s an interesting idea, I would have to replace the ice axe with the skis or the ski poles because the main idea is to use thing I’d bring on every tour anyway - and I definitely only bring an axe when required.

Is the FT817 just your usual SOTA rig or is there a reason you explicitly use it only on winter activations?

I’m now wondering how a avalanche diode could be used as avalanche safety equipment… :joy:

My usual rig is a KX2, but in winter it got damp inside and took quite a bit of time to repair. The FT817 is more robust and seems to tolerate being damp, which is common in Scotland irrespective of the season. The KX2 is more difficult to keep dry!


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The diode will only allow the snow to go in one direction so point it away from you.


Sounds biased to me…

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Last winter (my first SOTA winter) I only activated on 2m for that reason. I hope winters are less damp in Switzerland than in Scotland, though ;). I really want to activate on HF the coming winter.

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Just by accident I’ve read this thread a few days ago and purchased a 2.6m aluminium (I prefer not to have any carbon fibre equipment) avalanche probe for experimentation. In true investigative spirit, I’ve also ordered a 3m probe. I’m excited to try this out as I feel this may be the one missing link to transition from car to motorcycle on my trips.

Well, I’ve tested it as a distancer from ground/antenna mast in three instances now, and it fairly withstands some bending force, I am aware folding it is to be done with some care as the steel wire can curl up in one of the tubes. Dirt may be an issue causing tubes not to attach or get damaged.
All in all: if taken care of and cleaned, an avalanche probe can a nice and handy addition to your backpack.

Hi all,
I have done a number of winter activations. The backpack is often much heavier in winter than in summer, especially on ski tours. A few times I could use the skis as a pole support (when the ground is frozen as stone). But that was the only useful idea…

Gonzen, HB/SG-030

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I haven’t thought that you could bring an avalanche probe only as a antenna mast. Interesting idea, I must say. However, I think I’ll continue using the carbon sotabeams telescopic mast in cases where I don’t have the probe with me anyway…

I thought about incorporating the skis into my antenna setup but then realized that there are many summits where you don’t take the skis with you into the activation zone.

Someone (might even have been Paul mentioned above) gave a talk to the Long Island CW club about activating summits in the Rockies and he used an avalanche probe for his antenna. Sometimes in combination with a hiking/skiing pole for holding up the other end of the antenna. He said he used a section of non-conductive pipe attached to the avalanche probe, to avoid problems with the antenna touching the metal probe.