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Shovels & Snow Saws

Shovels & Snow Saws

The snow shovel is the third component of the three essential offpiste safety items you need when skiing in the backcountry. Together with the transceiver and probe, you should always carry these in your pack. There is a huge range of snow shovels out there, we hope these notes help you decide how to choose the best model for your needs.
Most shovels have a strong alumium blade. Avalanched snow often sets solid like concrete and the lighter shovels with plastic blades not strong enough.
We recommend these only for SKIMO race competitions in where you will be required to carry a shovel even in low avalanche risk situations.
Otherwise go for a strong metal shovel.
If you ski mainly powder conditions then a large blade may help dislodge a high volume of light snow quickly, but generally a medium size blade will be more practical.
Compacted snow is heavy, and often a smaller blade will work better than one which is too heavy when loaded.
Some blades come with slots allowing the blade to be used as a deadman when belaying.

Shovel shafts are either fixed length or telescopic. If low weight is an absolute priority then go for a fixed length shovel, but in general the longer telescopic models offer much more efficient shovelling. The same applies to shaft handles. These are either "T" or "D" shaped, the latter being more comfortable for serious shovelling. On some models such as the Arva Axe, Ortovox Pro Alu III and the Pieps C660 and C720 shovels the handle end of the shaft can also be connected to the blade to create a hoe function that can be useful to clear out large volumes of snow quickly.

Shovelling snow is hard work!! All the shovels we sell will clear snow out effectively but it's well work practising snow shovelling to ensure competence in emergency situations.
There are techniques to learn to shovel effectively on slopes to find the buried person as fast as possible. Regular practice and above all taking the time to go on a training course are strongly recommended.

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