There are several abilities that a good snowboarder must-have. One of them is being able to take on varying conditions of snow. In contrast to several other games, the experience of snowsports can be heavily altered by the snowfall levels. Some snow conditions are more popular among skiers and snowboarders.
However, all the snow conditions have their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s our wish that you have maximum fun on the slopes. So, here we’re uncovering the most common conditions of snow and what you can expect from them. These are the snow conditions that every snowboarder must know:
1. Fresh snow
This is a favourite among most beginners, intermediate, and pro snowboarders. Fresh snow conditions are also loved by piste skiers. A clearing of freshly fallen snow can give everyone on the mountain a fantastic day. Those ‘grippy’ turns and a smoother ride down is made easier with a heavy sprinkle of fresh snow. Such conditions make most of the snowboarders and skiers eager to get up the hill and enjoy a smooth descent.
The freshly fallen snow is usually groomed by the piste bashers in the morning. The purpose is to make for some great skiing and snowboarding experience. As the day progresses, heavy skiing can do some damage to the fresh snow. It can get moved around the slope and an uneven slope would likely be created. The snowboarders, therefore, must be a little cautious.
2. Powder snow
This is a popular snow condition in the mountains. It takes place when the resort has witnessed some heavy snowfall. The snow has a structure of powder and low moisture. While riding, the snowboarders and skiers would get the feeling of floating over the snow under such conditions. The ride would seem absolutely magical. Grooming can take away much of the powder from the piste.
One gets to discover glistening bits of snow when taking a ride following a heavy dump of snow. As the skiers and snowboarders glide over the thick powder, they must be careful. The weight of the body must be kept towards the back of the board or ski. This is done to avoid the nose digging in the snow. Falling in the thick powder won’t hurt, but digging out of heavy snow can be certainly challenging.
3. Packed powder snow
Packed powder refers to the snow compressed and smoothed by a piste basher. A piste basher is also called a snow groomer. The packed powder makes for an excellent snow base. Smooth conditions created by layers of abundantly packed powder that covers a piste makes skiing and snowboarding much easier. Such conditions can be ideal for those who want to learn and practice new skiing or snowboarding techniques.
They won’t have to face any unexpected bumps under the packed powder conditions. Early in the season when the resorts get heavy snowfalls, they create pistes with packed powder. This is done by using the piste bashers. A good, even base for the winter season ahead is thus created.
4. Icy or hard-packed pistes
Icy pistes and hard-packed pistes are slightly different from one another. Yet, you can find both these snow conditions on the same day on the mountain. Ice is naturally quite smooth and can be easy to slip on. The hard-packed powder is also slippery, but it is a little more forgiving than ice.
As the water content in the snow increases, ice and hard-packed powder is formed over time. Ice and hard-packed powder are compacted owing to regular grooming and skiing. They’re usually warmed during the daytime or over several daytimes. They’re also cooled or refrozen overnight.
Hard-packed snow is often easier to navigate than ice. Despite this, planting an edge in order to make ‘grippy’ turns is more challenging under such conditions for snowboarders. When hard-packed pistes are smooth, it can be great for skiing at speed. On the other hand, ice can be very challenging to ski on and needs edges that are razor-sharp.
Snowboarding enthusiasts would also require sharp edges to hold their turns on the ice. As an alternative, they can simply glide over the ice at speed without having to put an edge. Under such situations, stopping becomes a bit challenging. Nevertheless, the best ski racers and snowboarders enjoy icy conditions.
The biggest reason is that these conditions allow them to reach their top speeds. The pistes start to get icy when it has been cold for a while and there is no snowing. Most of the snowboarders and skiers won’t like ice. The reason is that it doesn’t allow them to dig their edges into it pretty well.
This makes staying in control a bit more difficult. An exception would be the situation where the ice is smooth and even. Such conditions can allow snowboarders and skiers to try some speed skiing and have loads of fun.
5. Slush snow
Slush often occurs during spring as soon as the packed snow base of winter begins to melt. It happens to owe to the warmer mountain temperatures. Some indulge in bluebird spring skiing during the slush snow conditions, while others spend relaxed afternoons in the sun. Thus, the slushy snow also has some advantages. Slush can be challenging for snowboarders and skiers.
It can be slow and heavy due to the lack of a crystal structure. The wet consistency of slush snow can pull at your snowboard or skis when you try to turn. Slush also occurs as part of a combination of an icy morning and a slushy afternoon.
The temperatures rising throughout the day results in changing the conditions and melting the snow. It freezes again during the chilly night. Although it can be a lot of fun, slush is generally not preferred. It is only liked by those who want to enjoy warmer temperatures and slower speeds.
6. Crud snow
This is among the worst kinds of snow conditions for most snowboarders and skiers. Crud results from the cutting up of un-groomed snow by the skiers. The un-groomed powder is often found at the sides of the piste. It’s quite difficult to ski crud.
In order to do that, you’ll need to navigate through alternating snow consistencies. They must’ve become either icy and bumpy or remained soft and fluffy. Such conditions need much concentration and some serious leg work. Only then you’ll be able to successfully slide through such kind of snow.
You’ll also come across a variation of crud snow on the piste. It is the one that’s been churned up by heavy snowboarding or skiing. This often occurs when it has snowed throughout the day and the grooming has not been done. This snow condition is enjoyed by those who wish to have a workout or like challenges.
7. Sticky snow
This snow condition is quite similar to slush. It is yet another variation of snow created when it starts to melt. When the snow is wet owing to warm temperatures, it begins to make a vacuum under the ski. This makes skiing more difficult as it becomes difficult for the skis to slide through the snow. You’ll find the stickiest of snow when it falls fresh and the temperatures are rapidly rising.
The snow that has been freshly fallen still retains its crystal structure. It moulds itself to the bottom of your snowboard or skis as it becomes wet. This makes it difficult for air to get underneath and creates a vacuum. Under such conditions, it is hard for the snowboard or skis to slide. Even the most seasoned snowboarders and skiers can be caught off guard under sticky snow conditions.
This is because it slows you down on the steepest slopes and makes turning a challenge. It would take a chain of weather events to create such conditions. The snowboarders and skiers, therefore, don’t have to deal with sticky snow too often.