Your thread title sounds like sarcasm as it was actually the extreme opposite of cement. This phenomenon has nothing to do with "cement", which is high water content snow typically from precipitation out of humid Pacific air masses quickly rising over the coastal mountains and accumulating at elevations just below the freezing level.
As for an answer as milesb related...Chubbs. Or any really fat powder ski or monoski. Success would not be otherwise possible.
You skied at Sugar Bowl and I skied at Kirkwood. Both areas had similar massive accumulations though the snow at KW was somewhat drier on average simply due to higher elevation. SB is 6883 to 8383 while KW is 7800 to 9800. KW received 70 to 88 inches and now has a 90" to 140" base. The below would not apply to someone who skied this same storm at non crest resorts like Heavenly as the depths were much less. The best chance to experience this would be at Alta or Targhee as most Rocky resorts otherwise rarely get such big dumps of fluff.
One sinks in so deep with normal skis because of inadequate surface area in dry, cold, and fluid-like snow. Thence down deep there are too many forces exerting against the front of one's body versus forces of moving downhill with gravity. In the steeps you can only really go mostly straight when it is above your crotch and when the pitch lessens a huge wake forms. A friend of mine who skied at Northstar where the snow accumulation was more like 2 feet didn't have much of a problem because he could still platform off the firmer base. Likewise places at KW where wind limited deposition were limited I skied powder with my usual easy rabbit bouncing mode. I've skied multi foot dumps in the Sierra over the years and usually the symptom you describe are not a factor because one usually doesn't really get that deep turn after turn in typical Sierra snow no matter how deep it is.
For those who don't want to get a little technical you can stop here.
To get some basic good info including this statement "Studies in the Rocky Mountains have shown that the fluffiest, lowest density (0.01 - 0.05) snows typically fall with light winds and temperatures near 15°F" see url:http://nsidc.org/NSIDC/EDUCATION/SNOW/snow_FAQ.html#QAAhttp://nsidc.org/NSIDC/EDUCATION/SNOW/
Now to give you some real numbers on why this snow was extraordinary, I checked the CDEC web site, remote snowpack status for Caples Lake during that storm series which is at 8000 feet and just 2 miles from Kirkwood which has a 7800 foot base. The CDEC info url for such is at:http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/queryF?cap
You can click on the Earlier field to get reports from earlier periods including way back to when those storms occurred. What it showed was that during the whole period , snow occurred while the temperature was between 14 and 20 degrees which for 8000 feet in the Sierra is exceptional. For SB you could add 3 degrees. Even 3 degrees makes a noticeable difference in the snow quality. That was also why the snow level was around 2000 feet in the foothills. Temperature drops about 3 degrees F per 1000 feet thus:
((8000 - 2000 ) / 1000 ) x 3 = 18 degrees F. 32 - 18 = 14 degrees F. And since KW is mostly higher per above, the temperature was even a bit lower. Also the ridge where the runs are at KW receives almost twice the precip usually recorded at this remote Caples site partly due to massive wind blow in from the other side of the ridge.
There has always been lots of bullshit about how snow in places like Little Cottonwood Canyon is somehow mysterious lighter. But the truth is that when it snows there, it is usually a lot colder and the Pacific humid airmass has long since undergone accretion changing to snow. Here in the Sierra the average mid winter storm has a snow level of about 5500 feet which is where Blue Canyon is on I80. Accordingly the usual temperature during storms is in the upper 20's with a corresponding greater water content. But snow levels vary greatly depending on where the jet stream is pushing the atmosphere. Anytime you see lots of snow down below Colfax at 4000 feet the Sierra is getting snow as good as one typically sees in the Rockies.
This was the last time I'm going to get caught not being able to take advantage of spectacular snow and will now get some really fat powder skis for my quiver. My normal relatively wide mid fats have a 74mm waist which I normally can lay down short beautiful 8's with the best but I've seen these conditions a few times before and the only solution is to go really fat. -dave
[This message has been edited by SSSdave (edited February 15, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">
[This message has been edited by SSSdave (edited February 15, 2001).]</FONT>