How to Excavate an Avalanche Victim
While shoveling may seem elementary, it consumes most of the time during an avalanche rescue. Excavate immediately downhill of the probe strike. In avalanche burials deeper than one meter, start the excavation downhill about 1.5 times the burial depth. By shoveling downhill from the probe, there will be less snow to move and you will not compact the snow over the avalanche victim’s limited air pocket.
Avalanche debris is often firm, so chop the snow into blocks, then scoop. Try “paddling” rather than lifting each shovel full of snow. Avalanche professionals recommend sturdy, aluminum shovels over plastic in real avalanche debris.