Skiing – Various Snow Conditions

Beginner skiers are sometimes dismayed by snow conditions that can change from day to day. Just when you’ve got the feel of one type of snow you are suddenly faced with icy patches or crud. Don’t worry! You will soon get the hang of it, and these different types are a big part of what make skiing so fun and exciting.

Snow texture on ski trails is affected by both weather conditions and the number of people who are skiing the trail. Snow can vary in moisture and density – usually the colder the weather the drier the snow. The longer that snow stays on the ground the denser it becomes. When many skiers are using a trail of older snow, icy patches usually develop because the action of the skis over the snow causes it to melt and then freeze.

If this is your firs time skiing, it would be wise to take some beginner classes to learn cómo esquiar por primera vez. Here are a few snow conditions you are likely to encounter throughout the season:


Skiers love powder! This is fresh, soft snow – untouched by other skiers. Skiing through a powder field is considered the ultimate skiing experience by many enthusiasts, and some will go to great lengths to get to powder. Powder requires a different technique, though, and the beginner may fall a lot. Not to worry – the snow is soft enough and dry enough to make even falling a pleasure! The biggest challenge when skiing powder is to keep your weight evenly distributed over the skis. Because the snow is so soft, excess pressure on one ski will cause it to sink. Weight also has to be distributed from front to back, so shifting your center of gravity more to the rear is necessary.


Crud is powder that has been skied on. As more skiers go down the slope the trail becomes a patchwork of soft and packed snow. This presents the challenge of constantly varying snow as you progress down the slope. Skiing on crud can be fun but requires a more aggressive technique than skiing on powder. The knees should be kept bent to absorb the impact of the larger pieces of snow and you have to be constantly alert to what is coming up.


Crusty snow has a hard surface on top of softer powder. It is caused when the sun melts the top layer of snow and it refreezes. Crusts can be either hard or soft. Hard crusts usually present no problem because the skier will stay on top, but softer crusts will break. Skiing through soft crust can be a real challenge because your sideways movements will be somewhat restricted. The most challenging of all is a mixture of hard and soft crusts. Hitting a patch of hard crust while skiing through a soft crust can cause you to fall.


Ice is the most challenging and the least fun. If your skis are angled as they go over ice they will slip out from underneath causing you to fall or lose your balance. Usually only parts of the slope have ice patches and they can be spotted by their different color. The key to skiing icy slopes is to keep alert and flatten your skis whenever passing over an ice patch.


Slush is very soft, wet snow. It is created by rising temperatures that cause the snow to melt. Because the snow is heavy more effort is needed to make turns. Gentle, gradual turns are more successful than quick manoeuvres which may cause your skis to get caught in the snow and make you fall. Falling in slush is not fun! If you are a hard-core skier trying to get the last few days out of the season, maybe you can tolerate slush. Most skiers are better off avoiding it.

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