Glossary of ski, snow, and weather terms to know:
Alpine skiing: Downhill skiing.
Base: The bottom of the mountain where the lodge is situated, or the average depth of snow on a mountain.
Base snow: That cumulative depth of snow (old snow or snow pack) that resides on the ground excluding new surface cover. It usually is measured following snowfalls and thaws at the base and near the summit. Base depths and new snow measurements are usually given in a range, with the first figure representing average depths or accumulation at the base and the second figure indicating measurements at the summit.
Bindings: hold your boots to the skis and are designed to release when you need them to during a fall. Many bindings also have vibration-reducing features that allow you to ski more smoothly. Your ability and weight will determine the binding you choose.
Bunny slope: The most gently sloping hill on the mountain, usually used to teach beginners.
Carving: Making turns on the ski or snowboard with the edges cutting into the hill.
Catching an edge: Not so good. A fall or near-fall where the edge of your ski or snowboard digs into the snow, usually catching an indentation made by another skier.
Catching some air: Going fast enough to have both skis or the snowboard off the snow after riding over a small hill or mogul.
Corn snow: Loose ice-like granules the size of corn kernels which are usually the product of the above/below freezing cycle of temperatures typical of Spring days.
Cruising: Making a long run at an easy speed.
"DIN": The retention setting on bindings are measured in "DIN," which stands for Deutsche Industrie Norm. In general, the higher your weight and skiing ability, the higher the DIN setting. Have a ski shop technician determine and set your DIN for you.
Fall line: The straightest and steepest line down any slope. One you'll likely take if you fall.
Freezing rain: Rain which does not freeze until it makes contact with the ground. Ground temperatures are sufficiently cold enough to allow the falling rain to freeze on contact.
Frostbite: Extremely cold temperatures reduce the blood flow to body extremities and surface tissue resulting in a lack of feeling (numbness) and epidermal tissues turning white.
Frozen granular: A hard surface of old snow formed by granules freezing together after warm temperatures or by the granules freezing together after a rain. A surface that is less hard than ice and which will support a ski pole stuck into it.
Gaper: A skier who pauses to take in the scenery. They get their name from the gap between their hat and goggles.
Granular surface: Snow that has been groomed and is not fresh powder. The surface looks like millions of little, snow pellets.
Green circles, blue squares and black diamonds: The markings used to indicate the difficulty of a mountain's slopes. Greens are easiest, blues moderate or intermediate and blacks advanced. A double black diamond indicates the toughest run. Be aware that designations are for that particular mountain; a blue run at Aspen is not necessary as easy or as tough as a blue run at Mad River. They also differ on each mountain.
Hypothermia: A serious, potentially fatal condition that occurs when a person has been cold for so long that he has lost the ability to rewarm himself. This happens when all the "stored energy" is used up with nothing left to keep body temperature at a safe level. A person becomes unable to take care of himself properly and frequently does not even know that he is in trouble. Symptoms: violent shivering, loss of coordination, speech garbled, general appearance of being "out of it."
Ice: A hard, glazed surface usually created by freezing rain or large quantities of rain or old surface snow melting and quickly refreezing again. Also a very wet surface skied into a smooth surface while above-freezing temperatures are existent and then rapidly dropping temperatures occur. When broken it breaks into chunks rather than granules.
Loose granular: Loose granules formed after powder snow thaws, refreezes and crystallizes; or, an accumulation of sleet. Also may be produced by machine grooming of frozen granular or icy surfaces.
Machine snow: Very fine crystals of snow produced when atomized water, which is sprayed into the air by a snowmaking 'gun', freezes and falls to the ground as snow. Depending on temperature, humidity, type of snowmaking system and type of snow desired, machine snow can be either dry or wet.
Mashed potatoes: Wet, heavy snow.
Moguls: The mounding of snow into multiple bumps all over the trails by continuous rhythmic turns made in the same spot over a period of time.
New Snow: The new fallen snow which has not yet settled into the existing snow base. It is measured at the base and near the summit.
Packed powder: Loose powder snow compacted by skier traffic or mechanical apparatus to a state which leaves little air space between particles. Also may be produced by dry machine-made snow.
Parabolic (also called shaped) skis: Also called hourglass skis or shaped skis. Allowing strong intermediate skiers to ski like experts, and beginners to make those pretty turns sooner. They promise speed and control, responding to the slightest pressure.
Poles: Those stick things that you hold while skiing. They are used to help you with your balance and rhythm while skiing. Poles can be made from fiberglass, aluminum, graphite or some combination of these materials.
Powder: New snow generally of a dry and fluffy consistency. (Will not make a snowball easily.)
Schussing: Skiing straight downhill, often in a full tuck position.
Sleet: Solid, crystallized pellets with angular or round surfaces (as opposed to soft flakes of snow) which often fall when warm and cold air collide.
Snowplow: Often the first technique a beginner learns. The front tips of the skies are almost touching as the back tips are bowed outward, creating friction and helping with balance and control. Even advanced skiers use the technique at the beginning of runs while they put on gloves or adjust goggles.
Wet granular: Loose or frozen granular snow which has become wet and soft from a thaw or from rainfall. Provides a delightful skiing surface.
Wet snow: Powder snow that is wet when it falls (you can easily make a snowball) or dry powder or packed powder that becomes wet because the temperature rises above freezing or is dampened by rain.
White-out: When cloud cover, snow, and fog reduces visibility to near zero.
Wind Chill: The cooling power of the wind and temperature on exposed flesh expressed as an equivalent of temperature in still air.
Windpack: Dry powder snow driven and packed hard by the wind so that it becomes hard enough to partially support a skier.
Yard sale: A wipeout fall in which skis, poles, hat, etc. end up strewn along the mountainside.