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Winter’s here: A skier’s lowdown

Written by Fiona October 29 2013

Do you know your corn snow from your crud? Or your powder from your bullet-proof? How do you choose the right boots and skis and where should you go for the best of this season’s skiing and snowboarding? My guest blogger Jenna brings you a skier’s lowdown.

Know your snow. Pic credit: Skistar Trysil

Know your snow. Pic credit: Skistar Trysil

Several factors contribute to the type of snow you will be encountering on any given day. These include conditions during the snow’s journey to the ground, temperature and wind once it is on the ground and how long it has been there. The main types you will see are:

–        Powder: New, fresh snow that is soft and light. Many boarders prefer powder

–        Packed powder: Powder that has been packed down by traffic or grooming equipment

–        Corn snow: Wet, gritty snow, which is caused by daily freezing and thawing cycles

–        Crust: A softer type of snow that has a hard, frozen crust on top of it

–        Crud: Similar to packed powder, but crud is much more irregular, with bunches of crust or ice

–        Slush: Melting snow. Slush is extremely wet, and no snowboarder or a skier likes it

–        Granular snow: There are loose, wet and frozen varieties. Loose is small and caused by grooming wet or icy snow. Wet is just that. And frozen is very light, with small crystals

–        Brown snow: Snow with mud showing through

–        Bullet-proof: Extremely hard packed, often icy snow. Wear a butt pad if you’re worried about falling (you’ll thank me later).

How to choose ski gear based on snow type

As far as the 3 Bs (boots, bindings and boards) go, these will be mostly tailored to your style and preference in riding. For boards, there are so many different things to think about, from size, shape, type of board/bend to materials etc.

With bindings, the key factors are flexibility, highback level, padding and straps. And for boots, it’s comfort and flexibility. You need to be able to spend all day in these, so make sure you get a good pair.

It’s a good idea to go to a gear shop and talk with someone knowledgeable about your gear needs. Most popular and established ski resorts, such as La Plagne in France, usually have great variety of shops since many professional skiers prefer the atmosphere and facilities these ski resorts have to offer.

For attire, do the usual. Layer! Conditions can (and will) change throughout the day, and you want to have options. Add and subtract layers as the weather dictates.

The biggest consideration when you go up should be the amount of moisture in the snow. If it’s going to be a warm day, it’s more likely to be damp and slushy. Pack backups and be careful about what you wear. There is nothing worse than being wet while you’re riding. Choose wool and synthetic materials that will wick moisture away from your body and keep you warm regardless.

And then, at the end of the day, kick back in your chalet in La Plagne and let the fire and the warm drink in your hands do the work.

And Jenna’s top tip: If you’re thinking about booking a ski chalet in La Plagne, take a look at Snowchateaux’s selection of charming, chocolate box chalets. Perfect for groups and families, Snowchateaux chalets offer all the modcons and comfort you need for an unforgettable break.

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