How to find spring snow
So you have your ski job and you’ve spent the winter looking for the best snow , well spring snow ( or corn snow ) is simply the gift that keeps on giving towards the end of the season , with ever changing snow conditions you need to know how to find the best snow at all times of the day .
So what exactly is spring snow
While spring skiing is known for its carvable “corn” snow, you might easily tap into fresh powder all the way through Maybe if you are high enough and the slopes have been shaded . However, to fully realize their spring skiing potential skiers need to know something about corn itself.
Corn is so-named because of the large, rounded-off snow crystal structure that results from an ongoing melt-freeze cycle. Warm sunny days melt the snowpack, allowing small cold grains to merge together, forming larger crystals. Clear, cold nights in the spring re-freeze these wet, larger crystals and they become slightly more angular (squarish, like a kernel of baby corn).
This repeats day after day and night after night ,the longer the melt-freeze cycle continues, the larger these grains become. It may take many days of melt-freeze cycling to produce ideal corn skiing conditions. The morning following a freeze this corn layer at the top of the snowpack is solid as a rock, so dont make the mistake of heading out to early, it will be rock hard but hopefully not for long.
At some point during the day either the sun’s radiation or the day’s rising ambient air temperature (or both) begins to soften the top layer of this solid melt-freeze “corn crust” and velvety, highly-edgeable corn skiing is born. But if the day starts cloudy and cool (or maybe windy) after a clear, cold night and then remains so, you don’t have corn, you’ve got a problem. Basically its not going to happen , so dont go searching for it !
Chasing the spring snow and how to catch it right all day long
Planning is as much a part of spring skiing success as anything. Know the weather forecast and be on the hill for the ideal spring skiing window , don’t ski when conditions are rock hard, and avoid the late day slush when the ski experience becomes more like the one you’d find behind a boat ( although on a board this can be a great time of the day ) .
Use your head and follow the sun, skiing east-facing slopes at the start of the day, then move to south slopes, then ultimately west- and north-facing slopes later in the day. If you are in a big wide valley like say Meribel , then you have some great chances to find spring snow for a good part of the day !
So have a great time in the Spring Snow and have fun !!