Friday, August 24, 2007

Do You Speak Snow?

Skiing and Boarding in Australia requires special skill. Not only do we intrepid antipodeans cope with ice, crud, slush, fog, arctic winds and ice-showers (often on the first run of the day); we also have to learn to read Snow. Not the white crystals that fall from the sky, but the language used to entice us to drop everything on a Friday afternoon for a weekend in the Snowy Mountains in August.

In the language of Snow there is no such thing as ice, crud or white outs. Instead we have

A firm base” (Ice)
Hard-packed snow” (Ice)
A fast surface” (Ice)
Loose snow” (Tricky, needs to be interpreted in context. Could be a dusting of snow over ice or ice cookies)
Tree-lined trails would be your best bet” (It’s windy out there, don’t wear anything too billowy lest you fly off the mountain)
softening during the day”. (It’ll all be slush by lunchtime)
Best snow to be found up high” (As in Mt Kosciusko, everything below 1900m will be slush)

So we end up with pearls such as “fast and firm conditions in the morning, softening as the day continued” or that ultimate indicator of a day that should finish at lunchtime “It’s beautiful and sunny, don’t forget to slip, slop, slap!”.

Visitors, don’t be fooled. We Australians have real measures for judging the snow conditions. I ski Thredbo and find that the following questions are a good measure of snow conditions:

  • Is Dream Run open?

  • Are grass and rocks showing through at the bottom of Funnelweb?

  • Look at the snow cams of High Noon. Are there dark patches showing on the right hand side?

  • Can you see Eagle's Nest from the village?

Patches showing through on High Noon early in season 2005

Not that it makes any difference. No matter what the run conditions I still go skiing because we Aussies are tough. We know if you can ski Australian conditions you can ski anywhere. So put on your waterproof gear, don your helmet and sharpen your edges and come and ski/board with the wild ones. You might even learn a new language.


fifi said...

Ha, this made me laugh.

Ok, I ski Perisher so, on the webcam,

Is smiggins completely brown?

Is there icing on the christmas pudding?
(is there snow on the rock under the perisher double chair)

contemplating going down to give the muscles a workout in the slop this weekend...whaddya think?
Light dusting overnight (spring slop frozen solid?)

Ms Ellipsis said...

Thanks for the Perisher snow-signals!

Haven't been for a couple of weeks but I've heard from a local that it's been pretty warm lately...

A Light Dusting Overnight: will look like an icerink after an hour of skating. A layer of mush on ice.

I think there'll be a few people down there escaping APEC.

the Albino Bowler said...

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