Dig Safe: Proven Steps to Fast Excavation

Beacons get all the glory. They’re expensive, tech-packed pieces of gear that backcountry users covet for finding partners and getting found. But shovels and shoveling deserve more credit. After all, when avalanche debris sets up like concrete, and your partner is buried deeply, your job doesn’t stop at pinpointing them with a fine search and a probe strike. Here’s a video of how to dig safe and dig fast. For more excavation techniques, check out the January issue of Backcountry.


  1. gOOD STUFF, people need to watch more things like this instead of people hucking sick air. The Text in the beginning went by too quickly to read the first time. With the 5 shoveler scenario I assume you can’t really expect a uniform rotation and they just figure people will tap out when ever and the 5 th person is always ready to relieve?

  2. Thank you. We Employ two way radios in our treks. In a traverse of potential avalanche terrain, a single person crosses then radios completion. This increases the opportunity for max persons available for rescue if required. Always vigilant.

  3. A very informative video. It certainly illustrates how important it is to practice good shoveling techniques. Is it possible to look at shoveling techniques for burials on flat ground or when someone is caught at the bottom of a terrain trap. In these cases using the slope to your advantage may not be possible.

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