Pit Maneuvers: Snow pit tests and digging protocol

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:

BackSide Elevated Education Episode 12 – Digging a Snow Pit from K2 Skis on Vimeo.

Shovel Shear Test:

BackSide Elevated Education Episode 13 – Digging a Snow Pit: Shovel Shear Test from K2 Skis on Vimeo.

Compression Test:

BackSide Elevated Education Episode 14 – Digging a Snow Pit: Compression Test from K2 Skis on Vimeo.

Extended Column Test:

BackSide Elevated Education Episode 15 – Digging a Snow Pit: Extended Column Test from K2 Skis on Vimeo.

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