Beyond meringue: Why you should know the difference between fresh snow and powder.
The next time it snows, catch a snowflake in your hand. Look at how small, how fragile, how elhemeral. Now think how many snowflakes it takes to fill the mountains. It seems nothing like a stroke of the divine.
Any one not completely rocked by the mysteriesand magic of our frozen white friend is clearly isn't thinking enough about it. Snow is one of the most amazinf substance on the planet, a thing of beauty and we awe that never stops changing from the moment of it's birth to its death and raincanation as meltwater. Its wild and transforming properties are at the heart of the starngley compelling experience of deep powder skiing.
The snow is the thing. Snow is, of course, what separates powder skiing from regular skiing, what makes it almost an entierly different sport from the groomed trails and it dosen't take much mountain savvy to see why experience of slipping silently into the white room is world away from the aggressive arcing of the hardpacked carve. In most skiing, you're in it, and therin lies the kay: What separates deep-powder conceptually, aesthetically, and practically from every day skiing and, indeed from every other sport, is the immersive, over-the-head, in-deep cover up.
Only scuba diving and prehaps surfing offer a similar link between the players and the field, but they're so farfrom the alpine experience that comparisonis superficial at best. It's the rhythmic in and out of powder, the being a part of instead of apart from, that is the little miracle that makes deep-powder so transcendent.
A faw layers of nylon might separte the skiers physically from the snow, but when seen as a system, as a dynamic enterprise of motion and emotion, they are one.
Next,it must be legitimate powder snow. That is, it must be light, dry and powdery. It drives me nuts when skiers and snowboarders confuse fresh snow with powder. Don't call it powder just because its untracked. Freshies can just as easily be a maringue, glop, or cement. Powder is powder, light and delicate. At its best, its about four per-cent water by volume - 96 percent air and it explodes when you hit-it. It dust your chest, coats your face, streams from your shoulders. It lingers in the air in your wake. And there are few sights more inspiring than vapor trail of cold smoke, a cloud of nanocrystalsdancing skyward, then hanging in the air and drifting slowly back down to earth, a snowman in microcosm.
Part Three Comeing Soon.