A snow-pit is a trench that exposes a vertical section of snow between the carpet of snow and the ground beneath. The purpose of a snow pit is to reveal layers of snow for study.
Snow-pits allow you to study the characteristics of the snow in a particular area. Most people dig snow pits as a means of assessing the safety of the snow in a specific area and assessing avalanche risks.
As time goes by, snow accumulates in layers. These layers are not all the same but have marked physical differences.
The way the snowpack develops can have a profound effect of the risk posed, with some structures putting the snow at higher risk of an avalanche than others.
Checkout the video below on a simple way to dig a snow-pit:
The answer depends on how the characteristics of the area change. If you believe that there are substantive differences between one area and another, then digging more than one pit might be necessary to give you a full answer on the weakness of the snow.
The compression test is where you isolate a square foot of snow and then place the blade of a shovel flat on top. Tap on the shovel harder on the shovel blade until the column falls.
Start with easy taps using your wrist and then progress onto hard taps using your elbow and then shoulder for the movement. If the snow falls under easy taps, this suggests that it is unstable.
Select a block a yard wide and a foot deep. Then tap on either side of the block with increasing firmness, just like the compression test, to see whether the block fails.
If it fails quickly or fractures spread out across it, then it is a warning that the snowpack might be unstable.
For probes its simple, a solid 240 centimetre probe will help you dig a snow-pit, we highly recommend the Terrawest Core 240 Probe.
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