Jeffrowrote a review of Ortovox Professional Alu II Avalanche Shovel on January 25, 2013
Familiarity: I've used it several times
I use this shovel in the backcountry for building jumps, making snow caves, or digging test pits. I found creating a clean surface for compression testing was difficult due to the ribbed blade and slot where the handle goes onto the blade. Mind you, if I do need it for a rescue I will be glad to have such a reinforced blade and handle.
Another thing to note is the grip tape on the handle. After using it to build a jump, the friction created between the grip tape and glove melted the snow just enough to let it bind to the handle. By the time the jump was made there was a fist sized lump of snow covering the grip tape. It also rubs against anything you have in your bag (shovel blade, water bottle, extra clothes) and leaves some aesthetic scuff marks. But again, it would be great to have the grip when doing a rescue.
Bottom line, if I was using this as a rescue tool only it would get an easy 5 stars. But for someone who likes to do various activities in the backcountry, I would opt for a simpler shovel.