a close up image of a snowflake on a sweaterYou may have heard the cliché, “Eskimos have dozens of words for snow,” but when you get down to the ski & snowboard industry has just as many unique terms. Here you will find all the terms you need to keep up in conversations with our guides as well as some fun terms. So study the list and see if you can use them during your next visit to Northern Escape.

 

 

  • Dendrite: a type of snowflake that has six points. This is the archetypal “snowflake” shape.
  • Firn: rounded, well-bonded snow that is older than one year; firn has a density greater than 550 kilograms per cubic-meter (35 pounds per cubic-foot).
  • Frazil: fine, small, needle-like structures or thin, flat, circular plates of ice suspended in water. In rivers and lakes it is formed in turbulent water as supercooled water is brought to the surface.
  • Funicular Regime: snow containing greater than 14 percent liquid water in its pore volume.
  • Graupel: round, opaque snowflakes formed when regular snowflakes fall through ice-cold liquids. Typical sizes are 2 to 5 millimetres in diameter; is sometimes mistaken for hail but is actually smaller and less dense.
  • Névé: young, granular snow that has been partially melted, refrozen and compacted. Névé that survives a full season is called firn. Also refers to the accumulation zone of a glacier.
  • Penitents: tall, thin, spikes of hardened snow. They can range from a few inches to a several feet in height. Fields of penitents can develop over glaciated and snow-covered areas, particularly in arid regions, such as the Dry Andes or in the mountains surrounding Death Valley in California.
  • Polycrystal: a formation made up of several snowflakes that fuse into one massive flake.
  • Sastrugi: complex, irregular grooves and ridges in snow that resemble sand dunes; they form parallel to the prevailing wind direction.
  • Snow Barchan: horseshoe-shaped snowdrifts with the ends pointing down-wind.
  • Snowburst: a very intense shower of snow, often of short duration, that greatly restricts visibility and produces periods of rapid snow accumulation.
  • Snow squall: a brief, but intense fall of snow that greatly reduces visibility and which is often accompanied by strong winds but does not qualify as a blizzard due to its short duration.
  • Sun cups: a pattern of shallow, bowl-shaped hollows that form during intense sunshine.
  • Watermelon Snow: red algae common on temperate glaciers and perennial snow.
  • Yukimarimo: balls of fine frost formed at low temperatures on the Antarctic plateau during weak wind conditions. Electrostatic attraction between ice crystals explains the formation of yukimarimo at these low temperatures.
  • Quinzy: snow cave built from a pile of soft snow that is allowed to set
  • Verglas: thin coating of ice over rocks
  • Cant: The lateral angle of the boot in relation to the ski or snowboard. Starting from a vertical axis, your feet can be canted inwards or outwards to improve edge control.
  • Durometer: The measurement used to determine the hardness of a plastic ski boot shell; the lower the durometer, the softer the shell.
  • Herringbone: To climb uphill on skis, spreading them apart to keep from sliding backwards; called as such due to the geometric pattern left behind in the snow.
  • Schussing: Skiing straight downhill without turning.
  • Glisading: a skillful glide over snow or ice in descending a mountain, as on skis or a toboggan
  • Gaper: a skier or snowboarder who is completely clueless. Easily distiungished by the gaper gap; a strip of exposed skin above the goggles below the helmet
  • Nacelle icing: ice formation on aircraft
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