Photos and words by Scott Rinckenberger
This spring, I had the pleasure of shooting the photography that will be used by MSR in the marketing materials for their new Snow Tools line of products. In an impressive effort to round out their hardware offerings to support backcountry travel, MSR’s new Shovels, Probes and Snow Saws are smartly designed and intended for professional use.
In order to reinforce this commitment to professional quality in the new products, it was important to MSR that we photograph the gear being put through the paces of an actual practice use scenario. To that end, they recruited long time collaborator, ski patroller, ski guide and NWAC field observer Jeff Hambelton to lead myself and a couple of Baker pros on a mission to take field observations and run a simulated avalanche rescue.
A brief window provided us with beautiful weather for a tour of the Table Mountain area near the Mount Baker Ski Area.
Jeff chose two slopes for his observations, which included snow pits, a number of stability tests and a significant amount of data recording.
Despite a prevailing rain crust over the upper levels of the snowpack, there were many interesting layers lurking below the surface.
As was the case throughout this season, persistent weak layers were buried at multiple levels in the snowpack, giving Jeff plenty of news to bring back from the field.
A massive deposit of recent debris at the base of Table Mountain provided an excellent setting for a practice rescue scenario.
In an effort to capture some of the intensity of an avalanche burial, I rigged a chamber for my camera under the snow, and had Jeff and Adam dig like mad. I was really happy with the result.
The verdict after a long day in the field was that the gear is thoughtfully designed and expertly crafted. Case in point: that’s a beer-bottle opener in the handle of the snow saw. Yummy.
Thanks to MSR, Jeff Hambelton, Adam U, and Tess Golling for the great project and an excellent day out in the mountains.