A compact shovel for excavating avalanche burials.

Credit: Anthony Walsh

An avalanche shovel is a specialized compact shovel that has a collapsible or removable handle that makes it easy to store in a backpack. A reliable shovel is an essential rescue tool for digging out a buried victim efficiently. Digging is by far the most time-consuming component of rescue: make sure that you know how to assemble and effectively use your shovel. Plastic shovels are known to break while digging through dense avalanche debris – make sure yours is metal, durable, and large enough to move sizable volumes of snow quickly. Shovels are also used to dig pits for conducting snowpack tests.

Shovels are an essential piece of gear for avalanche rescue. Excavating a burial is the most time consuming part of rescue. Credit: Ortovox