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Let's talk about avalanche shovels

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Let's talk about avalanche shovels

Postby rking007 » Sat Oct 12, 2013 6:40 pm

Which one do you have? Why? Any advice? I was looking at these http://andrewskurka.com/2012/costco-does-it-again-two-21-oz-telescoping-aluminum-backcountry-shovels-for-20/ at my local Costco for $20 for the pair. They look really sturdy. What do you look for in a shovel and what do you recommend?
- Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

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Re: Let's talk about avalanche shovels

Postby rking007 » Sat Oct 12, 2013 6:55 pm

In fact, I'll go first. Check this link I found just now about this exact shovel on sale right now at Costco.

The bad...

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151284739659183&set=a.10151284732674183.491497.111734399182&type=3&theater

The good...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XgnvjRhfkM&feature=youtu.be
- Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

Re: Let's talk about avalanche shovels

Postby MonGoose » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:05 pm

I have the Voile Telepro shovel which I have been very pleased with.

As for the Costco shovel, it may be decent but if my skiing partner gets buried in an avalanche, I want to know that I have a top of the line shovel. To me, it's worth the extra $30.

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Re: Let's talk about avalanche shovels

Postby pvnisher » Sat Oct 12, 2013 8:10 pm

As Andrew SKurka himself said, "If you need to carry a shovel for possible avalanche rescue, it’d probably be wise to invest in shovel of higher quality."

I think that shovel would be great for building kickers, digging a tent platform, keeping in the car, kids can shovel alongside you in the driveway, etc.

I have the BD Deploy 3. I chose the 3 over the 7 (with its larger blade) to save weight, and also that even though you might be able to move more snow per scoop with a larger blade, slide-snow is so dense that you will get tired faster. Digging for more than a few minutes is really hard. The Deploy series also deploys really easily.
I do wish it had a D-handle over the T, though, especially for mitten use.
And a longer shaft would be nice. Man, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard that...*

More important than which shovel you have is:
1)that you and your partners have shovels (remember, they are digging YOU out)
2) You know WTF you are doing. Just diggin like a madman where you think your buddy is located is a bad, slow, tiring, time-wasting way to go.



*then I would have no nickels :-"

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Re: Let's talk about avalanche shovels

Postby evolve » Sat Oct 12, 2013 8:27 pm

I've got one of these: http://www.garmontusa.com/lifelink/products/shovels/alpine-pro.html. It was the burliest one on the shelf. I've put it through a lot of use and have had no durability issues. Thankfully I've never had to dig anyone out.

Don't skimp on a shovel whatever you go with. If you need to use it in an avi situation you don't want it failing and avi debris can be gnarl. The more snow and the faster you can move it, the better. Better shovel also means less time working on your back country booter and more time throwing down. :)

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Re: Let's talk about avalanche shovels

Postby TeamDino5280 » Sat Oct 12, 2013 8:57 pm

I use a larger telescoping volie.

Get one that is metal

Bigger the better (move more snow)

BCA, Volie, Black Diamond are good places to start, I wouldn't get one from Costco

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Re: Let's talk about avalanche shovels

Postby GregMiller » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:41 pm

I have the BCA B-1 EXT:

http://www.backcountryaccess.com/product/b1-ext/

And have been very happy with it - it fits nicely in my pack, and has served me well. To echo, spend the money on a quality metal shovel - it's more than just it being aluminum or not, but what alloy and how it was manufactured. There are plastic avalanche shovels out there, and the first avy shovel I got was plastic, but I can't imagine them doings nothing but shattering when push came to shove.

If you want an idea of what a shovel will go through, find where a snowplow has plowed packed snow into a berm, and try to dig through it. Honestly, it takes a ton of effort.
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Re: Let's talk about avalanche shovels

Postby Cruiser » Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:27 am

I have been using my trusty old BD tele-Bobcat shovel for almost a decade now. The D handle, extendable shaft, metal blade, and internal snow saw storage have made it a fantastic companion for skiing, mountaineering, and general fooling around in the snow. A quality avy shovel is one of those utility items that you can buy once and then be done with it. I have been through countless pairs of skis, packs, skins, bindings, and other foolishness over the years but that shovel just plain works.

I'll echo what others have said about shovels. Skip the plastic/lexan blades opting instead for a thick metal blade that is contoured to increase its resistance to bending. Go with a D handle instead of a T handle. Find one with a telescoping shaft so that you can maximize your effort depending on the conditions. Sometimes you need a really long shaft to hit the bottom of a pit but other times you want it short when the snow is really compacted and heavy. Buy your avy gear and then look for a pack to fit it in, not the other way around.

edit: The shovel with the yellow blade in the vid posted above is the same model I have. Damned thing moves some snow.
Where ever you are... There you are.

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Re: Let's talk about avalanche shovels

Postby Rock-a-Fella » Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:21 am

The "Shoveling" component is the most difficult / labor intensive component of companion rescue. I suggest lots of practice at it so you know what to expect when it really counts and you know you friends are efficient at digging you out when it counts!

Shovels are "personal" and the right one for you is important unless yours is for show and not for go.

Long handles, narrow, med, wide blades, holes for slings, saws inside. D handles, T handles.

I find that smaller people have difficulty with bigger shovels and taller people get exhausted trying to adjust their bodies to shovels that are too small.

Beyond the "Fit" the only feature I would strongly suggest is one with an "Axe" option. That feature will allow you to chop into hardback rather than pry and risk breaking your blade.

As for models:
I like the Chugatch Pro http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIBjggskL8Q It is huge and moves a lot of snow. This is not for gram counters.
Ortovox Grizzly: Sharper serrated edge shovel with a quick access "axe" feature.

I am 6'2" 185 lbs; the Chugach shovel filled with wet snow will wear you out if you don't use the right technique, but it moves lot of snow and fast.

My $.02

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Re: Let's talk about avalanche shovels

Postby TeamDino5280 » Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:27 am

Also while we are talking about shovels it is good to know how to shovel (weird right?) Here is the BCA video on Strategic Shoveling. very good stuff to know and practice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxMXX6b13L0


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Re: Let's talk about avalanche shovels

Postby Rock-a-Fella » Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:39 am

TeamDino5280 wrote:Also while we are talking about shovels it is good to know how to shovel (weird right?) Here is the BCA video on Strategic Shoveling. very good stuff to know and practice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxMXX6b13L0




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Re: Let's talk about avalanche shovels

Postby Gabriel » Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:43 am

I have an older Voile telescopic. It's not bad, but was not up to cutting through layers of ice on Denali.

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