Birkeland, Karl ; Johnson, Ron ; Herzberg, Diane . 1996. The Stuffblock Snow Stability Test. 9623 2836. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Missoula Technology and Development Center.
This report introduces the stuffblock snow stability test, provides information on its application and interpretation, and presents data that validate its usefulness in evaluating avalanche conditions. It is important to realize that valanche conditions cannot be assessed strictly on the basis of stability tests. A large number of factors relating to the terrain, weather, and snowpack must be considered, factors that are covered in detail in a variety of texts (Daffern 1992; Fredston and Fesler 1994; McClung and Shaerer 1993). Further, locating a "representative" site for the test is difficult. Despite these concerns, snowpack stability tests are recognized as critical tools for avalanche workers and backcountry travelers evaluating the stability of a particular slope (LaChapelle 1980), and for scientists attempting to test various aspects of the snowpack. This report will discuss various stability tests, their respective shortcomings, and how those shortcomings led to the development of the stuffblock test. An extensive discussion on performing and interpreting the test is provided, followed by an evaluation of the effectiveness of the stuffblock test in different snow climates and a comparison of the test with the widely accepted rutschblock test.