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Types of Snow?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
I was watching a Warren Miller show on OLN the other night and made a comment to my wife about the snow they were skiing. She responded: "isn't snow, snow?". She's a non-skier.

It got me thinking. What are all the ways we describe snow for skiing? Here are a few to get things started:

Corduroy: Nice soft, smooth, freshly groomed snow that makes you feel like a champion skier.

Sierra Cement: Fine Mammoth powder. You can straight line a 50 degree face and never go faster than 10 mph.

Wind crust: About 1" thick layer of hard, easily broken snow on top of a soft sugary layer. Once you get to the sugar, the crust won't let you turn.

Sugar: Snow with a low moisture content, so light you don't even notice it. Great for establishing avalanches.

Death Cookies: Frozen balls of snow that don't move when you hit them.

Baby Heads: Large Death Cookies.

Ball Bearings: Those real small balls of ice that form, usually on a groomed run overlaying super hardpack. Can't get an edge, feels like your skiing on a bed of ball bearings.

And many more: corn, slush, junk, crud, boilerplate, washboard (frozen cord), ice, blue, firm, and what we all wish for, Champagne.

Tell me more -
post #2 of 34
You forgot the #1 all-important type of snow... Bottomless!!!
post #3 of 34
Up in Scotland we sometimes ski on a type of snow called 'heather'.
It's a strong bushy plant that covers the mountain slopes. It gives a nice bouncy feel and doesn't need grooming.
post #4 of 34
In September we get "blue snow" which is actually freezing rain that coats everything to a few inches thick. The T-Bars are dragged from their hangers and stuck to the tracks. The T-Bar wires can be up to an inch thick with ice. The whole mountain looks like a Sapporo ice festival.

In early October we get "red snow". This is cased by micro organisms in the snow coming to life during the thaw\freeze cycle of the late season.

This is followed by "brown snow" which happens from time to time when the dust storms blow in from the western plains.

We also get "green snow" which is caused by lack of "white snow".

And then of course we have "yellow snow" which is a common phenomenon that appears around secluded snow gums and lodge walls anytime during the season.

So as you can see skiing in Oz is a very colorful experience.


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 03, 2001 03:41 AM: Message edited 1 time, by man from oz ]</font>
post #5 of 34
Ones needing no explaination - the snow fits the implication:

"Walrus Snot"


"Dust on Crust"

"SOS" (Slab on Soft - good avalanche conditions so a fitting abbreviation)
post #6 of 34
Cascade Concrete-Can tear your leg off at the knee and you won't even know it,related to Serria Cement.

Loud Powder-Any snow condition that you can hear your skis.

Beach Powder-Powder snow that has been wind packed to the point that a ski edge is hardly seen in it. Kind of like skiing on the sand dunes.

Creaton Condtions-Freezing Rain on the googles and "variable snow depths"(over the handle bars or in the back seat).

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 03, 2001 02:05 PM: Message edited 2 times, by slider ]</font>
post #7 of 34
I don't know about different nomenclature, but a good friend of mine always cautions, "Trust no snow you cannot hear".
post #8 of 34
There are 3 types of snow: 1. Lots 2. Not enough 3. Hammered goatshi+.
post #9 of 34
Hey Slider that's "Cascade Concrete." Sierra Cement's evil cousin.

Up at Schwitzter they get "Snow Ghosts" caused by the fog freezing. Niiiiiicccccceeeeee.

post #10 of 34
There is a type of snow that we get a lot at Turner. It reminds me of the cartoons when some snow falls on a character it will make a "fwooomph" sound. When I land in this type of snow, it reminds me of that. It is tracked up VERY easily. but it's probably the funnest snow i've skied on.
And another thing, there was some sort of wind crust, but it was not very thick at all. probably less than 1/8 inch. anyway, it was powder underneath and you could straightline every run without having to worry about going to fast. maybe you described it in Sierra Cement. i don't know. I've never skied Sierra Cement.

post #11 of 34
Britain's favourite snow seems to be Fairy Snow.
I don't know how it skis, but it washes British underwear beautifully.
post #12 of 34
Wow, I am surprised that nobody mentioned artificial snow. Here in the East it is essential to the survival of many resorts.

Artificial snow is very heavy and hard to negotiate unless it is groomed. I learned to love it because without it our season would be even shorter.
post #13 of 34
post #14 of 34
I always liked "cold smoke"
post #15 of 34
Cold Smoke and Snorkel Snow.
post #16 of 34
We have a condition in Montana called 'Dust & Crust'. That is when the light powder isn't deep enough to keep you off the icy, rutted snow beneath. Truly one of the trickiest conditions I've ever skied.
post #17 of 34
Wow... having never skied in the Sierras, and being completely unfamiliar with their 'cement', I had pretty much assumed that it was a derogatory term for their wet, heavy, slushy snow. Fine powder sounds like just the opposite! This changes my entire perception of the California ski mountains.

What exactly is the difference between hard pack and packed powder? I'm mostly just familiar with Colorado snow (especially that of southern Colorado), which is usually packed down, but quite easy to dig into with a few kicks or pole jabs. I'm guessing this would be packed powder?
post #18 of 34
There have been times while riding the lift that I looked down and actually see that the color of ice on the mountian is really the color blue. I avoid if possible, and try never to turn on it.

Otherwise, if you can get a consistent edge on it, its good snow !
post #19 of 34
I've skied both Sierra Cement & Cascade Concrete as well as their lesser known cousin, Siskiyou Cement. To tell you the truth I have a hard time telling them apart. There is a eviler version of all three that I don't know the name of, though. That version is when the cement or concrete has been scrapped clean of all texture by snowboarders. It is usually found in patches and is almost impossible to get an edge into. Anyone got a name for this crap?
post #20 of 34
Hasn't any one ever skied Champagne powder in Steamboat?
post #21 of 34
I have skiied on several different types of snow. I spent a weekend skiing with family at Tahoe on what they called a Powder day. Not, it was the wettest heavy glop i've ever skiied. The snow I like is just exactly what we get at ALTA. Steep & Deep, Champagne. There is no better feeling then when you cut down off of Catherines, High Nowhere, or The Castle in Champagne up to your chest. [img]tongue.gif[/img] [img]tongue.gif[/img] [img]tongue.gif[/img]
ALTA Champagne is so soft you can't make a snowball out of it. ENJOY. [img]tongue.gif[/img] [img]smile.gif[/img] [img]smile.gif[/img] [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #22 of 34
HERO SNOW- I know of a couple of versions
1. A few inches of fresh powder that gives you the coolest feelin' of rebound out of your skis.
2. Same thing, but fresh powder groomed into the rest of the snow.
post #23 of 34
Shwek - Gooey, almost clear snow that forms a 1 inch (sorry Oz, 2 cm) layer on top when it's exceptionally hot out. If you fall in it, you instantly get wet!

Groupel - pellets from heaven.

Wind Cake - Dense layer of snow on top of the previously mentioned Sugar.

Coral - Cut up snow from the previous day that has been frozen solid and can cut you to ribbons if you fall.

Beefy - Heavy powder.

And my all time favorite (it's already been mentioned) Cold Smoke!

Spag :
post #24 of 34
2 Kinds of snow:

Regular and Butterscotch.
post #25 of 34
What Sierra cement turns into - smooth, creamy, and buttery - Corn Snow!! spread a little and you'll know what I mean.
post #26 of 34

I’m with you – Steamboat’s champagne powder. One morning last season, forgetting to put the Jeep in the garage, awoke with a foot of the stuff on the truck. Didn’t even bother reaching for the ice scraper that morning, just took a deep breath and blew the snow off the windows, headed to the mountain, and skied like a hero. Skiing off the Tower, 2:30 Woods, or backcountry up Buffalo Pass in champagne powder is hard to beat.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 20, 2001 10:22 PM: Message edited 1 time, by woodpile ]</font>
post #27 of 34
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by powderhound:
Hasn't any one ever skied Champagne powder in Steamboat?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Ohhh yes...Champagne Powder....
One shot in particular will always stand out in my mind.

1990,Middle Rib- Foot of fresh, blue skies, perfectly spaced aspens for about 150-200 yards, no tracks, no sounds, just turns..Text book. Etched in my memory forever....Then there was big Wednesday to....Can you say choking?

Ex-Bear Claw Bus driver....
post #28 of 34
The Butter and the Cream
post #29 of 34
Packed powder is what we ride in the sierras most of the time. Its the kinda snow that feels packed but when you take a ski off you sink half way up your boot. You leave marks when you ride over it, but you don't blow it out like powder. The really fun days are the days where it squeekes a little bit. Do you know what I'm talking about? That snow that makes noise as you ride over it. It can really be a lot of fun. Nothing to pure powder, but still quite fun.
post #30 of 34
Bill H,
Add Glit to your list--it's something between glue and shi*.

With all these wonderfully accurate descriptions of the different kinds of snow, why does the ski reports ALWAYS have the same two types--powder & packed powder--every day? Who do they think they're kidding?

Published ski report definitions:
POWDER is any snow that hasn't been machine groomed nor ski packed all three days of a three day weekend. Melted & refrozen snow evidently counts.

PACKED POWDER is everything else that came down white.

Real definitions:
If you can make a snowball stick together, it ain't powder. And there's no such thing as packed powder. It's like evaporated rain. There's soft pack, hard pack, lots of kinds of packed snow. After you drive a groomer over powder, it sure isn't powder any more.

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