Question Snow surface conditions and how they are formed

Jameski

Hard Yards
Jul 28, 2009
62
11
58
Yarra Valley, Victoria
This may be addressed elsewhere already.. I'm interested to know what causes sticky snow? I had a day at Buller early in August and it felt like I was skiing glue. In patches it would almost throw me off my feet from slowing down so rapidly. Is it just rain that has caused this effect or are there other factors at play? What makes spring slush different in that it can still be quite wet but still allow for smooth/quick skiing/boarding?
 

Horne bagging

First Runs
Apr 15, 2021
1
1
1
This may be addressed elsewhere already.. I'm interested to know what causes sticky snow? I had a day at Buller early in August and it felt like I was skiing glue. In patches it would almost throw me off my feet from slowing down so rapidly. Is it just rain that has caused this effect or are there other factors at play? What makes spring slush different in that it can still be quite wet but still allow for smooth/quick skiing/boarding?
To my knowledge it is caused by the size of the snow flake and its type. In spring they are much larger and more round, enabling the water to percolate through and as you ride over it more moisture is pressed down and through the gaps. Where as if its wet fresh snow the ❄ snow flake has the ability to absorb/trap moisture in its complicated long structures, all the hard edges catch the water and it becomes heavy and sticky
 
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Kenzie

Hard Yards
Sep 23, 2019
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This may be addressed elsewhere already.. I'm interested to know what causes sticky snow? I had a day at Buller early in August and it felt like I was skiing glue. In patches it would almost throw me off my feet from slowing down so rapidly. Is it just rain that has caused this effect or are there other factors at play? What makes spring slush different in that it can still be quite wet but still allow for smooth/quick skiing/boarding?
Moisture; and perhaps no or wrong type of wax on your skis.
 

Legs Akimbo

Grumblebum
Ski Pass
Mar 3, 1999
68,887
44,604
1,563
Coastal suburban boonies.
I've only really encountered this once, at Coronet Peak. As you said, so sticky (in places) that I nearly went over the handlebars when I hit it. As I recall, it had only fallen the day before.
I have encountered it at Alta, where I had Australian wax on very cold Utah snow. It is not temperature dependent, but I have no idea what causes it apart from incorrect wax for the conditions.
 

Luken

A Local
Ski Pass
Jan 1, 1970
5,151
2,086
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Belgrave South, 230m ASL
www.p1technology.com.au
This may be addressed elsewhere already.. I'm interested to know what causes sticky snow? I had a day at Buller early in August and it felt like I was skiing glue. In patches it would almost throw me off my feet from slowing down so rapidly. Is it just rain that has caused this effect or are there other factors at play? What makes spring slush different in that it can still be quite wet but still allow for smooth/quick skiing/boarding?
You'll get that with snow making snow as well. Slalom Gully at Hotham is a classic, especially first up. Hard crisp natural, then suddenly you hit the manmade stuff and just about face plant, feel like you are stuck in mud! One turn mud, next turn ice.. a challenge!
 
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MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
3,316
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Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
You'll get that with snow making snow as well.
Snowguns can be adjusted for moisture content. During early season the idea is to build up the base, so the snow created is deliberately wetter. When that's happening at my home hill (near Washington DC, not the Rockies), going over a snow whale can mean coming to a dead stop if you don't expect the change. Have to actually let the snow whale drain out the excess moisture before grooming it out.
 

Nemps20

Early Days
Jul 27, 2021
35
34
18
Sydney
I got told it was wind that caused the snow to form or settle differently. I had it in Japan last year at okushiga, super dry but windy and sticky.
Next day not as much wind, super dry and no stickiness in the snow, it was weird and then had a local explain to me.?????
Essentially the wind breaks up the snow flakes, has anyone heard of this phenomenon ??
 
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POW Hungry

Old n' Crusty
Moderator
Ski Pass
May 28, 2000
23,793
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Eastern Burbs of Sydney
I got told it was wind that caused the snow to form or settle differently. I had it in Japan last year at okushiga, super dry but windy and sticky.
Next day not as much wind, super dry and no stickiness in the snow, it was weird and then had a local explain to me.?????
Essentially the wind breaks up the snow flakes, has anyone heard of this phenomenon ??
Wind moves snow crystals across the surface, breaking them into smaller pieces and placing them into more dense depositions. As to whether it’s more ‘sticky’ depends on temperatures and humidity.
Yep, outside of freeze/thaw, this is the most common issue with snow settlement in the Aus Alps (after high wind + snowfall).
Sastrugi on windward slopes are an identifier of these conditions with leeward slopes a depository for what can only be described as 'cornflour' snow - a changer in snow density/total water content.
More here:
 
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