Now, the more I look into the necessity of knowing as much as possible about staying safe in avalanche prone off piste areas, the more useful products and materials I am finding, such as a Snow Crystal Card by Brooks-Range Mountaineering Equipment Company.
Snow Crystal Card
The Snow Crystal Card is a basic snow safety tool that can help in making an informed decision about the snowpack. The stability of the snowpack is determined by several factors over a period of time, not the least of which is the snow crystals and how they change and interact. I think this can best be illustrated by thinking of the resort snow during a typical spring day - boilerplate in the morning from the cold night, the sun warms it to nice corn snow then keeps warming it to a slush.
Snow Crystal Cards are made by several manufacturers, all come with a set of graphs on which to size and type snow crystals. This information is then related to the results of similar and historically documented studies that give a reliable basis of predicting the stability of the observed snowpack. The Brooks-Range Snow Crystal Card has a laser etched 1 mm, 2 mm, and 3 mm grid, a slope inclinometer in increments of 1 degree, crystal and snowpit "prompt legends" and cm and inch ruler.
Snow Study Tools
In no way do I mean to oversimplify the process of "snow study." Snow Crystal Cards are only one item in the snow study tool box and the backcountry skier can never learn too much about snow stability. Once you understand the accepted techniques and result interpretations any products that can add to, or simplify the process are welcome in the field - the snowfield.
The Brooks-Range Mountaineering Equipment Company is a small company of mountaineering experts providing a selection of top-quality backcountry gear to increase efficiency and safety in the backcountry. The company is strictly backcountry safety oriented - Tom Murphy, Executive Director, American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) sits on the Advisory Board.
Check out the Brooks-Range cataloq - I'm sure you'll find something to help keep your favorite backcountry skier safe - even if it's you.