Field Guide to Snow Crystals

Field Guide to Snow Crystals

Published by the University of Washington Press, 1969
By Edward R. LaChapelle
ISBN 0-295-950140-5 (Cloth-bound)
ISBN: 0-295-95040-4 (Paperback)

Book Chapters:

  • The classification of snow
  • Snow crystal observation and photography
  • Discussion of the photographs

Field Guide to Snow Crystals is the classic original book on the subject of snow crystals. It is a collectors item with copies on Amazon ranging from $45 to $290 for a new hardcover copy. While it may be outdated in terms of the level of understanding of snow crystals, it is nonetheless one of the early and most well respected guides on the subject.

Wikipedia summarizes Mr. LaChapelle well:

“LaChapelle was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. Following high school at Stadium High School, he served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946, and then attended the University of Puget Sound, graduating in 1949 with degrees in physics and math.


He then studied at the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos, Switzerland from 1950 to 1951, and returned to the US to work as a snow ranger for the Forest Service in Alta, Utah starting in 1952.


Montgomery Atwater, who had established the first avalanche research center in the Western Hemisphere at Alta over the preceding 7 years, said of his new hire: “To describe Ed LaChapelle is to write the specifications for an avalanche researcher: graduate physicist, glaciologist with a year’s study at the Avalanche Institute, skilled craftsman in the shop, expert ski mountaineer. He even looked like a scientist, tall and slender with a slight stoop and that remote look in his eye which means peering into one’s own mind.”


LaChapelle worked at Alta for the next two decades, eventually becoming head of the avalanche center.”

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