It’s prime time in the backcountry. As temperatures rise and the snowpack settles a bit this spring, safer avalanche conditions will draw skiers and boarders into the mountains in search of untracked powder, often with dozens of groups in a single ski zone on any given day. One problem? Communication between those people is often nonexistent. They’re too far away from one another to yell, and even if they carry radios, the chances of picking the right channel and circumventing any privacy settings to contact another backcountry group are slim. Denver-based Rocky Talkie wants to change that.

In February, the radio manufacturer launched a digital repository of Community Channels—also known as “group monitoring channels” or “common-use radio channels”—for backcountry zones around the country. Like an area code on a phone number, the channels and privacy codes are unique to specific areas, allowing radio users to connect with others in the area. For instance, Berthoud Pass, one of Colorado’s most popular backcountry skiing areas, uses the radio channel and security code 1:1, while Loveland Pass’s south side is always 6:2. Tourers simply tune into the right frequency, and they can communicate critical information—like potential hazards, signs of an avalanche, or their whereabouts—with other nearby groups.

Photo courtesy of Rocky Talkie

“So far, [there] has been a lot of excitement and energy to increase safety,” says Rocky Talkie director of marketing Erin Moeller of the new system. “We’re hearing from groups and individuals every day wanting to contribute new channels to the page.” Such enthusiasm is critical because, while Rocky Talkie hosts the database on its website, the Community Channels are decided on by local organizations, avalanche centers, and even dedicated community members. The Telluride Mountain Club, for example, published channels for the southern Colorado area on its website for locals. Rocky Talkie then gathers them in its Community Channels database where they can be easily accessed by both locals and visiting skiers who may not know where to find them otherwise.

Colorado also has Community Channels for Crested Butte, I-70 north and south, and Jones Pass, among others, plus a statewide emergency channel. Outside of the Centennial State, Rocky Talkie has also archived channels for New Hampshire, Utah, and Washington—all states with large communities of backcountry skiers—but the frequencies aren’t exclusive to folks on planks. Anyone snowshoeing, hiking, camping, overlanding, or trail running in these regions can use them, too.

One thing to note, however, is that these channels are intended for critical communications, Moeller says, and that backcountry users should designate a separate channel for chatting with their ski partners. So, if you just want to tell your buddy at the top how great that last run was, don’t do it with the entire mountain listening.

Have a radio and want to try? Find the channel and security code for where you plan to ski among Rocky Talkie’s Community Channels.