Common Snowpack Stability Tests

snowpack stability testsKnow Your Snowpack Stability Tests

With the growing complexity of snowpacks around the country, it’s a great time to brush up on your snowpack knowledge, specifically common snowpack stability tests.

The following video presentation of snowpack stability tests by Bruce Jamieson and Mike Conlan from the Applied Snow and Avalanche Research Center at the University of Calgary in Alberta offers a lot of information, including tests ranging from simple hand shears to full propagation tests and large Rutschblock tests.

Remember, snowpack tests are an important part of your bag of tricks, but they should not be the only tool you are using to determine slope stability and avalanche hazard.

Common Snowpack Stability Test Video

A brief how-to for common snowpack stability tests to locate and assess instabilities within the snowpack, presented by Mike Conlan. Start times of tests in this video are as follows:

1:32 Compression Test
5:06 Deep Tap Test
7:28 Extended Column Test
10:54 Rutschblock Test
14:48 Propagation Saw Test
18:48 Shovel Shear Test
20:49 Hand Shear Test
22:11 Concluding remarks on initiation, propagation, and limitations.

Learn more about fracture character in this video

Read our article on weak layer identification