The Pronto Express Two Way Radio!
The Pronto Express combines the speed, simplicity and ruggedness of a digital two way radio handset with the geographical coverage of the nationwide 3G mobile network.
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In February a group of like-minded chaps from Beaconsfield Squash Club embarked on the annual ski holiday. This year we increased the number from 8 to 12, a big ask in terms of organisation creating a situation one member termed as attempting to herd cats! This is where our two way radios come into their own. Each member of the group was handed a Pronto digital licensed free radio for their personal communications and given instructions on how to use them.
We flew to Geneva and took our onward transfers to Meribel Mottaret, two minibuses on the transfer and the radios allowed us to be in constant contact on the two hour plus journey to the mountains. On arrival at the hotel strict instructions for the following day were issued in true military fashion, including which channel to be tuned into first thing in the morning to allow for the seamless collection of 12 sets of skis and passes etc. The Pronto radios proved faultless!
Day One : Our tour guide and mountain man Jim quickly organised the 12 of us and gave instructions for the day ahead. Channel two was selected, operating in an unlicensed PMR446 pan European frequency in DMR digital, this offered crystal clear communications. Our party of skiers were of mixed ability resulting in a lot of waiting for some and constant skiing with no breaks for others, much to the latter’s disappointment! Our ski leader with a Max-59 acoustic tube was able to keep the group together throughout the day, which incorporated a nice long mountain lunch. Après beers were simple to organise on the Pronto radios, meeting times, bars and clubs all fell nicely into place!
Day Two : Mountain man Jim decided to split the group based on our varying ability to speed up the skiing across the day. Our Pronto two way radios really came into their own then and we were able to find lost skiers, quickly assess any wipe-outs, of which there were plenty, for injury and easily merge the groups for lunch. Under normal circumstances this would be a time consuming, expensive and almost impossible task on a mobile phone. Coverage across the mountains was excellent and the digital clarity really came into its own. A simple repetition of last night’s après organisation saw us enjoying a group meal and a lot of fun!
Day Three : Started off calmly but then…….. trouble on the mountain? The avalanche risk was extreme and overnight snowfall made conditions very difficult. Our party got split and 3 skiers inadvertently wandered off-piste in a white out snowstorm and quickly found themselves in trouble. Thank God for our Pronto two way radios, having found a helpful Pisteur we were able to alert them to stay where they were until we could get the Pisteur on the radio to explain exactly what they must do. The instruction was and in no uncertain terms to get the two skiers lower down the slope to keep their skis on and very, very gingerly with as little pressure on the snow as possible to move one at a time to the treeline whilst the higher skier remained absolutely still. The look of danger on the Pisteurs face said it all, constant radio communications were kept with all parties as they carried out his precise instructions. As they reached the treeline the uphill skier was told to remove his skis and climb the 75 metres to the piste. This took over an hour and the Pisteur remained with us the whole time, relying on the Pronto two way radios to literally save the day! Would we ever venture on the mountain without them? Given the severity of day three’s situation a firm and clear NO WAY!...................... See the picture below and total elation after near disaster French Pisteur with ski member!
Day Four : Now well acclimatised to two way radios and their huge benefits we had a fabulous last day on the slopes, one skier with a twisted knee was very quickly assisted and taken off the mountain. We were able to ski as a larger group again and any stragglers quickly located and mopped up. Skiing in groups of varying abilities is great fun but can be very challenging with our experience we wouldn’t even attempt it without our Pronto two way radios.
What range can we expect when using Pronto Licensed Free radios in the mountains?
The age old question………… The distance achieved in the mountains can be exceptional due to the heights involved, there are obvious limitations when users are lower down in the valleys but these are simple to overcome with a little common sense, as an example a call made at the top of the lift when trying to achieve distance will be more successful than one made at the bottom. As a rule skiers on the same run, or side of the mountain should experience good quality communications. When used around a resort it’s unlikely you will suffer coverage problems and fast and easy communications should be expected. As an extreme example, at one point we achieved eight miles, mountain to mountain top which was amazing and far exceeded the expectations of our Prontos. This kind of distance can only work if there is true line of sight radio to radio, a rare situation in everyday use.