One of the best things about teaching avalanche courses is the ability to discuss new methods, personal techniques and develop new methodology for making decisions in the snow.

Here is a great tip that I picked up from one of my fellow instructors Adam Brown. This tip relates to identifying (and recording) weak layers within the snowpack while digging a snow profile. Traditionally the progression has been as follows.

Dig your profile (2m across the fall line, by 1.5m downslope)

Your wide wall will be the ‘Test Wall’ and the shorter downhill wall will be your ‘Observation wall’

At this point most practitioners begin by identifying layers in the Observation Wall, completing a Hand Hardness evaluation, then documenting in the field book.

After layers are documented, your favorite snowpack tests begin (compression, rutchblock, ECT, PCT) all your favorites.– What Happens when a weak layer is Identified through a snowpack test that you had not recorded in your book?

I think most people would Curse that newly discovered layer for ruining that perfectly documented with cross-outs and eraser mark.

The simple solution is to- complete your snowpack tests before documenting in your field book! Try this next time you in your pit and let me know how it goes.!