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The origin of powder

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I went skiing on about 6 inches of fresh snow during a snowstorm on friday. Someone in the lodge referred to it as powder, but it wasn't.
The snow seemed to fall as granular, and set up fairly densely upon landing, definitely not powder.
I've only seen real powder snow in the east a few times, and I'm wondering if this has something to do with altitude.
If snow forms at a higher altitude, where the air pressure is lower, the individual flakes should be less dense, shouldn't they?
Just wondering; someone on this list must know the answer.
post #2 of 11
In how many ways can you describe powder?
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Almost all of my experience with powder comes from climbing and winter camping in the west, before I was a downhill skier.
Powder, for one thing, is the stuff you can't make snowballs with; the stuff at Hunter on Friday was dense enough to pack into snow sculptures.
post #4 of 11
post #5 of 11
I think a lot has to do with density, humidity and temperature.
Just to state the obvious.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'll tell you what powder isn't.... it isn't this stuff that balls up under your boots and keeps you from stepping into your bindings until you get it off; even whacking the boots with a pole wasn't enough, I had to stand on one leg and scrape the stuff off. Everyone else was having the same problem.
post #7 of 11
post #8 of 11
Here in the Pacific Costal Region the term "powder" is given to anything that is white and accumulates on the ground, at least by the ski areas. This means that most people around here also use the term that way.

I prefer "new" when discussing it and let its texture describe itself as I ski it.
post #9 of 11
I prefer "new" when discussing it and let its texture describe itself as I ski it.
Excellent point. I also prefer fresh, as in untracked. I can float on anything untracked as long as I can bust through the crust layer (if there is one). Powder is a loose term, I like cold smoke the best, fluff, champagne, anything fresh really right down to cream cheese which is the slowest wettest heaviest slop. Sometimes, it even snogs, when we get inversions and it will be sunny up top and then you ride halfway down the hill into the fog and it is snogging. Really all white stuff that falls from the sky is good, other than seagull chit.
post #10 of 11
You got to admit,PNWet snow gives you burly legs. My fav,
Dust on Crust.
post #11 of 11
Our old resident Austrian came in one afternoon and told me to get off my adz and get out there. Sitting in the glass of the instructors canopy where we were lounging late afterenoon with no lessons, it sounded almost like sleet.

He looked at me and just said "like velvet" ...

It was better than sex!

So smooth on the untracked that you felt like you were skiing on air alone.

Screw powder, gimmie a ton of that "velvet" any day, hands down.
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