Mountain Skills: Use Snowpack Tests to Make Better Decisions

Backcountry skiers and riders have been taught to dig pits for years, but the elephant in the avalanche education room has always been what role they play in your decision making. All too frequently we use them judge whether or not a slope is safe to ski—what do you expect when they’re often called “stability tests?” These tests, however, have serious limitations—both in the accuracy of their results and their interpretation—and, when applied incorrectly, can cause more harm than good.