Common Snowpack Tests

There are several standardized tests utilized in the backcountry which provide information on the snowpack and its instabilities. The below videos give an excellent overview of the common tests as well as how to score results for each. As explained in the videos, each test helps identify characteristics of fracture initiation and fracture propagation; both of which are needed for an avalanche to occur. Beyond simply looking at the test results in the field and aiding in the decision to ski a slope or not, this standardized scoring method helps us communicate our findings to others.


The second video provides excellent clarity in understanding fracture character and provides some meaningful statistics which relate to the frequency of skier triggered events and their correlation to test scores and fracture character.


These videos are neither exciting or adrenaline inducing. However, they provide a solid understanding of how to properly perform and score common snowpack tests. Take the time to watch and learn or to refresh your understanding of these tests and their meaning.

Enjoy the videos then get out there, dig some holes, and ski some powder!



Skiing Mt. Glory. Photo By: Steve Bohrer


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