AvaTech, a new snow and avalanche safety company, announced an interesting new tool today, the SP1 – essentially a smart probe that can profile the snowpack as it descends through the layers. The 150cm long SP1 reads snowpack structure, slope angle and aspect in seconds and then geo-tags the data. The tool is designed to interface with software called AvaNet, so its data and any other manual observations can be uploaded and stored in the cloud to be accessed by any backcountry skier, anywhere – provided you have cell or wifi access. It’s a high-tech tool to handle the work of profiling the snowpack that is traditionally done by digging a pit and evaluating the layers by hand. Obviously, the ease of plunging the SP1 into the ground could be a game changer when it comes to gathering snow profile data and searching for weak layers for backcountry skiers.
At this point, AvaTech is targeting professional users, heli operations, ski guides and such. And with a retail cost over two thousand dollars, it will likely remain a tool for commercial operations and snow professionals for the near future. Nonetheless, access to the data is open to all skiers and could become an interesting tool for understanding where weak layers exist and seeing patterns in the snowpack. The product and technology is the work of MIT engineers and an impressive team of backcountry ski industry advisers. The Sp1 could give new understanding to spacial variability!
New tech gadgets in the world of backcountry skiing are a mixed blessing, for sure, and time will tell how effective the SP1 turns out to be. But the idea is very interesting and the intention is a good one. Here’s the propaganda: