backcountry skiing with the foothill freak

The Freaks'
Mostly Accurate
Ski Glossary

Snow Conditions

Boiler Plate
Adjective. Mostly, but not completely supportable.
Breakable Crust
Noun. Snow with a crusty surface that has a less than 50% chance of supporting you in a turn.
Bullet Proof
Adjective. Solid. Supportable. Also used to describe men's windbreaker briefs.
Noun. Chunk of man made snow. A supersized, bullet proof Death Cookie.
Champaign Powder
Noun. Low water content snow.
Character Building
Adjective. Desperate and miserable conditions. Generally used in failed attempts to boost morale.
Adjective. Snow that shifts underfoot indicating a weak layer in the snow pack. Also known as whoomping.
Noun. Tracked powder in various of states of decline.
Death Cookie
Noun. chunk of snow that you think you can plow through, but turns out to be solidly lodged in place. Any form of icy shrapnel that appears out of nowhere.
Dust on Crust
Noun. A new soft snow layer over icy slopes that is thin or low density enough that rider still senses the crusty surface.
Face Shot
Adjective. Phrase used by others to describe the snow conditions when you weren't there.
Noun. Type of snow flake that falls in the shape of a solid ball. Often seen at the beginning or turbulent moments of a snow storm.
Noun. Snow that has been Freshly rolled over and groomed by a snow cat.
Hero Snow
Noun. A snowpack that allows for suprisingly fluid and easy skiing due to it's "right side up" consistency.
Loud Powder
Noun. Ice.
Magazine Crust
Noun. Zipper crust that is so thick that strapping magazines to your shins is recommended to assist with pain management and breaking the ice.
[ORIGIN: Utah Avalanche Forecaster Bruce Tremper]
Mashed Potatoes
Noun. Highly technical jargon meaning mushy.
Packed Powder
Noun. Term used solely by ski area marketers which indicates anything from definitely not powder to absolutely not powder.
Noun. AKA pow. You wouldn't want to know.
Crust. Noun. Crusty layer of ice that appears on the surface of the snow after a rain followed by freezing temperatures. May be, or may not be supportable.
Right Side Up
Noun. Snow that bonds well, creating safe conditions as well as excellent riding conditions. A study of the layers would indicate lighter density snow and cooler temperatures near the surface of the snow pack.
Noun. Supercooled water drop that freezes to an object, creating an opaque white coating.
Sierra Cement
Noun. Snow with high water density. Firm powder, not mushy like mashed potatoes. Coming from Utah, this is hard to believe.
Adjective. Snow so light in density that while skiing it goes airborne and creates respiration difficulty. See also face shot.
Noun. stalactite consisting of various porportions of frozen water droplets and mucosa.
Snow Snake
Noun. Suborder: Ophidia (or Serpentes). Order: Squamata. Family: piste montis. White, highly camoflaged limbless reptile found on piste in ski areas, know to prey on gapers, beaters, and hot doggers alike.
Sun Cups
Noun. Late spring into summertime snow phenomenon where melting caused by the sun creates a consistently pock marked and icy surface. Large sun cups are conducive to character building.
Sun Crust
Noun. Icy snow surface layer of various thicknesses created by exposure to the sun.
Noun. When the top layer of an inverted or and/or crusty snowpack is strong enough to keep a rider from punching through to deeper, weaker layers.
Surface Hoar
Noun. recrystalized powder surface that resembles feathers from 1 to six inches in vertical length. Created when moisture freezes as it moves up and out of the snowpack. Often found by streams or in cold pockets, but after several cold, clear nights, can be found covering entire slopes.
Noun. Sounds Italian but it's Russian. Sculpted ridges that form on wind eroded snow.
Noun. When the top layer of an inverted or and/or crusty snowpack is not strong enough to keep a rider from punching through to deeper, weaker layers. Phenomenon conducive to creative word usage.
Upside Down
Noun. A snowpack that is stronger, more dense near the surface, and both weaker and lighter density as you go deeper. Often created from a single storm that starts cold and finishes warm.
Adjective. A weak, unsupportable snowpack that collapses not just underfoot, but extending out. Creates a whoomphing sound as the layers settle. verb. When the snow audiably settles.
Wind Buff
Noun. A wind affected snow surface that allows for suprisingly good riding.
Wind Slab
A wind affected snow surface that allows for suprisingly bad, and potentially dangerous riding.
Zipper Crust
When a sun, rain, humidity or temperature event creates a thin surface crust over powder. Thicknesses run from paper thin to pencil thin.