You can separate out skiers from non-skiers when it comes to describing snow: the white fluffy stuff gains whole new dimensions when its primary purpose is for snowboarding and skiing. In Les Menuires you will find a variety of surfaces on different slopes, which may catch you out if you’re not prepared for what’s under your skis.
Read on for a selection of the five types of snow that you’ll find yourself skiing in. Les Menuires beckons!
Although you will never find proper ice on the slopes, icy snow is a not-uncommon feature. If the temperature is low and there hasn’t been any fresh snow for a while, the pistes will become compacted by the weight of numerous skiers and snowboarders until it is very solid.
Most winter sports enthusiasts do not like icy snow, as it’s hard, slippery and leaves you without much control. However, it is the prime condition for on-piste speed skiing, so if you have enough space and a smooth surface then icy can provide endless fun. Having a sharp edge on your skis will help you to cope with this slippery surface.
Slushy snow, which is essentially partially-melted, is not the nicest of conditions for skiers. If snow continually melts and refreezes again, its crystal structure is lost and results in lots of little ice lumps in the snow, which effectively act as sandpaper to bare skin. This lack of structure also makes slush very heavy, which means it can be difficult to manoeuvre your skis. Make sure that you make smooth carving turns to conserve your energy.
The crust is pretty self-explanatory: when the wind and the sun melt the top layer of the snow, which is then frozen solid again, you’ll end up with an icy crust on top of a layer of powder. For aggressive skiers or snowboarders, smashing through the crust to reach the powder below can make for a wild and interesting ride.
Beware, however: the crust is rarely uniform, which can result in a painful pair of smashed shins if you cruise into an icy piece of crust that is frozen solid.
Crud is a pretty negative name for the kind of snow that you will probably end up experiencing a lot on a ski holiday. When a nice fresh blanket of powder has been skied over a lot, the snow gets packed and piled to create an uneven surface that is sometimes slippery, sometimes lumpy and often temperamental.
It’s best to see crud as your own personal playground – use the inconsistencies in the surface to launch a kicker or spray your friends!
Powder is the dream snow of most skiers and snowboarders. It refers to the freshly-fallen white blanket, smooth and untouched, that you dream of waking up to in the morning. Often it forms thick layers which cushion you if you end up taking a tumble.
The important thing to remember about powder is to maintain your speed as you glide across it – otherwise you run the risk of getting bogged down in it. Be aware that tree stumps, rocks and crevasses can be lurking under thick powder, so don’t throw yourself at it with complete abandon.
So there we have it, the five key types of snow. Make sure you try to experience a variety of surfaces and conditions when you’re skiing in Les Menuires so that you can learn what works best for your ski style!
Belinda Smythson works for Ski Amis, a specialist ski travel agency and booking service that has been helping avid skiers craft their perfect winter holiday for over a quarter of a century. With a team that has years of experience skiing in Les Menuires, Three Valleys, Paradiski, Espace Killy and Chamonix Valley, Ski Amis is the go-to company for winter sports fans looking for a holiday of a lifetime.