A shovel is normally a shovel, unless it's the Sharktooth LongNeck Pro D handle by Brooks Range. In addition to cutting through packed snow and ice, I'm pretty sure it could also cut down a tree.
If you've ever dug through avalanche debris you know it's similar to what they plow leaves at the end of your driveway; only worse. I'm happy to say this shovel handles it with ease and is exactly what you need if you find yourself in a rescue situation. You should buy all your backcountry buddies one this Christmas and feel safer with them.
Brooks Range didn't set out to make one shovel for the masses. They created a modular system which lets you design the exact shovel you want. Mini or Pro blad, long or short shaft, T-handle or D-handle, SharkTooth blad or smooth. And for the fashion conscious backcountry guy or gal, a choice of more than ten colors.
Cheapskates, have no fear. You can add or subtract features to your heart's delight and the shovel costs no more or less. At less than $55 you might as well get an extra to keep in your car.
Brooks Range Avalanche Shovels: http://goo.gl/h7FRW
More gear reviews: http://goo.gl/0x4zz