Ok, so this is probably a "duh" thing for all you experienced BC people but I figured there are probably some noobs like me in here as well so I thought I'd post it up.
These shovels are available at a lot of hardware/outdoor sports stores around where I am: http://www.homedepot.com/b/Outdoors-Garden-Center-Garden-Tools-Snow-Ice-Snow-Shovels-Ice-Scrapers/Lifeline/N-5yc1vZbx86Z8bd And they seem, at first glance like an affordable alternative to an expensive avi shovel. I bought one like 3 years ago in high school to build booters with and I used it for a bunch of random stuff (including shoveling rubble on a construction site) until early this season. Then, while building a booter it broke, right at the junction of handle and shaft (the little metal neck just broke off the handle)
I figured it was a bit of a fluke especially since I had abused that thing for almost 3 years so, when Black Friday came around and Tri-State had them on sale for $15 I grabbed another one. I used it for maybe 5 booter sessions and it lived in my pack until yesterday. We were snow-camping and when we went to dig out a cave for the tent my buddy (who is admittedly hard on gear) snapped it in exactly the same place, It was icy but not bad enough that I think the shovel should have broken. SO newbs of NS looking to save money on backcountry gear DONT BUY THAT SHOVEL!
On that happy note, I need a new shovel, el pronto via. I know the safe bet, big blade, D handle, etc and I can just go ahead and buy one of those but this has me intrigued: http://k2skis.com/tools/rescue-shovel-plus-ice-axe It's on sale and I kind of want to review it.
I'm thinking it probably has some major weaknesses as a shovel and as an axe, the shovel doesn't extend but the axe is B rated so it can't be that bad right? I wouldn't want to substitute it for a real axe or anything but it is an intriguing idea and it seems like an easy way to bring an axe along in situations where you don't think you'll need it but emergencies may present themselves. Anybody have any thoughts or experience with it?