After an avalanche, you could gain valuable lifesaving time by using the right avalanche shovel and following the right shoveling approach. Avalanche shovels are among the three essential items of backcountry protective gear, together with a probe and an avalanche transceiver.

In the aftereffects of the avalanche, it’s a must to dig out the victims from the snow. A good shovel combined with the correct technique can seriously lower rescue time and increase survival. 

How to Choose Avalanche Shovels
How to Choose Avalanche Shovels?

Before you learn how to choose avalanche shovels, note that you may use your shovel or a range of tasks outside of the rescue crisis, such as making trenches for snow stability testing, constructing jumps, and scooping out your automobile.

What Type of Materials are Used for Avalanche Shovels?

Snow shovels nowadays are mostly constructed of aluminum and strong polymers, with only a handful made of carbon. Metal shovels must last the longest and cut through most of the snow. It is, however, dependent on the manufacturing and design quality.

For even a gram-counting alpine skier, steel shovels are so light that buying a plastic-bladed avalanche shovel is pointless-plastic lacks the debris-penetrating capacity of metal-bladed shovels.

Also, a carbon shaft is available on certain avalanche shovels. Although this structure might lower overall weight, it usually comes at a higher price. To ensure durability and maximum strength, make sure the leading edge and shovel blade are made from metal.

What Type of Avalanche Shovel Blade Shapes and Sizes are Available?

Blades for avalanche shovels come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Smaller blades are much less effective in slicing and moving huge volumes of snow, but they are lighter and simpler to wield. Larger blades can move snow faster, but they need more muscle to work and may wear you out more quickly.

Consider that increasing your shoveling pace with a little shovel could be simpler than continually underfilling a large shovel when tired. In general, you should choose the biggest shovel that would fit in the pack and one that you’re comfortable with. A good shoveling method will help you solve many problems while also increasing your efficiency and speed.

The shovel blade must be able to fit inside your bag with ease. The edges of some shovels are flat, while others are curved, and other versions feature serrated blades that assist in cutting through ice and snow. The angle and shape of the shovel blade are essential to consider while excavating snow pits and smoothing out the walls; a flat shovel blade will assist you in developing a better pit wall.

You can use the shovel blades with holes to construct rescue sleds and snow anchors. Holes could also make it easier to transport the shovel. For experienced backcountry trekkers, these characteristics can be quite useful.

What Type of Avalanche Shovel Handles and Grips are Available?

For simple handling when digging, look for slip-resistant handles, and the shovel must always fit conveniently into your bag. During a fall, everything on the exterior of your backpack is in danger of being pulled off. 

Telescoping shafts are common on shovels, giving you a variety of leverage possibilities. Longer shafts provide more digging leverage, while shorter shafts are easier to manage in confined spots. You can achieve Increased stiffness and strength by using shafts with a triangular or an elliptical cross-section.

The shovel must fit comfortably in your palms. There are various grip styles to choose from; T-shaped and L-shaped handles are often more compact and lighter, although bigger D-shaped grips are more pleasant to handle, and you could use them while wearing mittens. 

Select a shovel handle that is comfortable for both you and your hands. Most shovels allow you to set the blade to 90 degrees and use it as a hoe. Since the most effective technique of transporting snow is to cut and pull it, this can be beneficial.

How Much Does an Avalanche Shovel Weight?

It is an essential consideration in choosing a snow shovel; even so, it’s underlined by the three factors above. Therefore, if you have extremely particular tastes, the shovel weight will result from those choices.

Sure, traveling light is ideal, but the avalanche shovel may not be the area to go light. If in doubt, choose a little heavier. You would like an extremely reliable instrument for successful digging and scooping during the rescue crisis. You’ll be able to cut, dig, and drag snow more quickly and effectively, all of which are critical components of an effective rescue.

Sometimes, you should prioritize weight oversize and material because every gram should count if you plan to utilize it for multi-day excursions.

And if you don’t mind losing a few minutes while completing a snow testing procedure since you’re using a smaller shovel, opt for something light. You may easily save around 200-300 grams and still do the task without trying to lug too much weight.

How to Use an Avalanche Shovel as a Backcountry Snow Shovel?

Backcountry skiing and snowboarding traveling is a magnificent statement of independence and self-discovery. Having the right gear helps you study the surroundings more precisely as you travel. It allows you to comprehend the avalanche better and reinforce sensible terrain choices. Here are its applications.

Gathering water for drinking

Digging out snow to drink water is a tip for utilizing a snow avalanche shovel. Although drinking water is much more easily acquired from ice and rivers, you may sometimes need to rely on snow. It’s quick and simple to gather snow with a shovel.

Avalanche rescue

Apart from the numerous advantages and purposes of carrying a shovel, nothing beats having one on hand for the avalanche rescue. Everybody in the group should have a shovel if in an avalanche zone. The individuals bringing the shovels will likely get trapped if just a few shovels are available.

Examining the snowpack

Digging trenches to gauge snowpack levels is another use for snow shovels in terms of snow safety. During a tour, the party must dig into the snow to assess the ice conditions-this aids in detecting weak snow layers that might lead to an avalanche.

Construction of emergency shelters

If the weather turns bad, a shovel may quickly construct snow shelters. A shovel could help you create a snow cave or short refuge if you’re out on the route and need to remain overnight.

Putting together a tent site

Constructing a tent campsite is among the most typical uses of the snow shovel. The shovel will smoothen the ground and build windshields once you’ve chosen a tent location. A shovel makes creating cooking areas, sitting places, and fire pits are much easier.

Safety in snowmobiles and cars

A shovel may assist you to unstuck whether you’re stuck in an automobile or on a snowmobile. Get familiar with life-saving terms, such as what is a bergschrund and how to cross it.

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