Book It Danno — Hacksaw’s New Tome

Post by blogger | October 30, 2008      

Field Book

The book comes with a clear plastic photo pocket you can stick anywhere. I stuck it on the cover with some family photos, to remind me why I'm being careful.

Want to ramp up your avalanche danger evaluation skills? One thing that helps is keeping avy specific records of your trips so you can step back and review lessons learned. Sure, you can do that with memory (that’s what I’ve done in the past), but memory fails and your brain isn’t like a book you can just page through years after an event.
Longtime avalanche educator Halsted “Hacksaw” Morris came up with a nice solution years ago when he first published his “Backcountry Skier’s Field Book.” The idea was to provide something with waterproof paper along with content such as forms and crib notes.
Hacksaw’s original book is out of print. Snow pros such as guides and snow safety folks wanted a field book with more content, so Hacksaw went back to the drawing board and came up with his new “Professional Snow Data Field Book.”
Backcountry Skiing

I really like right hand page, with the -5 Lemons- method of evaluating how weak the snowpack is. Another page has an “Obvious Clues Method” for figuring out your travel style.

Backcountry Skiing

This is a structured notebook, every page has a professional style chart/form you fill out with your observations. Depending on how your brain works you'll like this more or less. If you want an “emptybook” style field book, other options are available from different companies.


* Pocket size, 5×7 inches
* “Rite in the Rain” – all weather pages.
* Sturdy waterproof plastic covers
* Small group rescue checklist
* Phone number page
* International 5-level danger scale
* Snow Stability Rating System – SWAG compliant
* Avalanche Classifications – SWAG compliant
* Stability Tests – Rutschblock, Boardblock, Shovel Shear, Compression, Stuffblock, Shovel Tilt, Extended Column, & Slope Cutting
* Shear Quality – SWAG compliant
* Fracture Characteristics
* 5 Lemons – Ian McCammon’s danger rating system

Shop for this book at Hacksaw’s website.


9 Responses to “Book It Danno — Hacksaw’s New Tome”

  1. powderjunky October 30th, 2008 10:24 am

    Hey Lou,
    Can you use pen or pencil with those weatherproof pages?

  2. C. Lowe October 30th, 2008 10:38 am

    I admire your idea of posting pictures of family on the cover of your journal. Ultimately, loved ones the reason to make good avalanche decisions and a reminder while out in the field is never a bad thing.

  3. Lou October 30th, 2008 10:44 am

    Junky, anything works but an outdoors pen such as Inka is best.

  4. Shane October 30th, 2008 3:12 pm


    I do a fair amount of writting (in the rain) on rite-in-rain paper. It’s wonderful stuff. I’m not familiar with the Inka pen but I find pencil to be better than most other ink pens. Sometimes the ball of regular bic style pens doesn’t spin properly over the paper resulting in spotty lines. Far worse are felt tipped pens that release lots of ink. It sometimes beads up on the paper and doesn’t dry quickly, just like rain, and can be a mess. Fine tipped Sharpies work alright but I prefer pencils.

    Wow, did I just write an entire paragraph espousing the benefits of pencils? What a geek.

  5. Lou October 30th, 2008 3:40 pm

    Shoot, I was going to do a 2,000 word blog on that same subject, you almost beat me to it (grin)!

  6. Halsted October 31st, 2008 11:55 am

    Thanks Lou for posting about my new field book.

    The Professional Snow Data Field Book is the next generation of field books from Hacksaw Publishing. Yes, the older Backcountry Skier’s Field Book is out of print.

    The new book design had a lot of input from some backcountry ski guides and ski patrollers.

    The new small group rescue checklist was developed with Dale Atkins, formerly of the CAIC.

    Not only is the book geared towards keeping operational snow safety program data, but Level 2 students will find the book very useful. For aspirant ski guides that are working towards their certifications, it is a great book for documenting field experience. A couple of ski areas have already bought the new field book.

    I see that you’ve placed the attachable clear vinyl pocket on the cover of your book. The pocket can be mounted basically, where ever the user wants. I have found that you can even fit one of Doug Scott’s avalanche maps (the smaller scale ones = Berthoud Pass and Loveland Pass, etc…) into the pocket. It’s a cool idea to have photos of you’re significant other in the pocket to remind you what’s important.

    I have used both ink pen and pencil in my field books. The “Rite in the Rain,” paper works with both. I write in my phone numbers with ink, and use the pencil for my field ops and snowpits. A #2 pencil fits inside the wire spiral binding.


  7. Randonnee October 31st, 2008 7:17 pm

    That looks good. I think I will give them for Christmas gifts to my friends in the Republican Randonnee Club. : )} : )}

  8. Halsted October 19th, 2009 11:05 pm

    Its early season, order your books… 😎

  9. Jerry Casson October 12th, 2010 12:32 pm

    I’ve noticed that you use McCammon’s “lemmons” in qualifying snow pack structure. Why did you choose this over the “yellow flags” described by Jamieson? What is you opinion of these methods? Which do you prefer? Are differences between the two negligible? The “yellow flag” method seems to have more recent references. Is this a consideration?

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use. ...

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