When was the last time you dug a snow pit? During that Avy 1 course you took a few years back? On that one hut trip last winter to a zone you’d never skied before? Digging pits is often seen as time consuming, but, in reality, there’s no better way to understand the snowpack upon which you’re traveling.
Through a well-dug snow pit, you can learn about the strength and energy of the snowpack, how much a slide could propagate and the structure of the snow’s layers. Pair those findings with weather, terrain options and other observations to help aid in deciding where to ski.
Here, Sarah Carpenter of the American Avalanche Institute gives the rundown on pit basics and snowpack tests. To learn more about snowpack assessment and avalanche safety, check out an avalanche course near you.
Digging a Pit:
Shovel Shear Test:
Extended Column Test: