Ski / Snowboarding Lingo - Part 2

Here we go again... More ski and boarding lingo to learn! 

I was writing the second part of these Ski Lingo articles when I stumbled across this post on  So, to be honest, rather than reinventing the wheel, I have republished this article with a few amendments on my part.  So full credit goes to for an entertaining addition to this series!  We even learnt a few new terms!

With a focus on snow conditions, our addition to the list Ski Lingo Dictionary looks something like this: 

Facials:  When you ski in powder which is so deep, it blows up into your face, and you end up looking like a cross between Santa Clause and a yeti!  There is no downside to facials.... it shows us you've been there, skied the line, survived and have the white hat or beard to prove it!

Blower Pow: When you take a turn in the fresh light powder, it blows into the air, leaving a trail of frost behind you, allowing for some great Insta-worthy face shots and even better turns.

Butter: Silky smooth like butter, but with a fast enough surface to get some speed while still feeling quite silky under the feet.

Chunder: Thick, heavy and non-cohesive…  it's yucky snow at its best.  This snow is non-optimal and can come in many different varieties. Chunder is something you just know when you are skiing it.

Champagne Powder: High-class light, fluffy powder typically found Heli-Skiing in the ranges surrounding Queenstown.. Regular snow takes 1 inch of water to make 12 inches of snow, while champagne powder makes 30 inches of snow for every inch of water. This snow is pure bliss. Only found after the coldest of storms.  We hate to admit it - but it's pretty rare!

Cement:  Commonly found up Coronet Peak with the share quantity of snow guns now in service, but which still is (affectionately) known as Concrete Peak due to heavy wet snow, which forms a bulletproof surface that skis a little too hard and a little too fast.    It can also refer to general powder, which can be hard to move through if you get in the thick of it. This wet snow forms at around 32 degrees F and feels like cement when caught in it.

Clam Chowder:  Thick, chunky, wet, and lumpy snow. Kind of like the soup you eat but in snow form.

Cornice:  A large build-up of snow often found on the peaks of mountain tops. These things are sick to drop in from but can be really unstable and can create avalanche danger.

Crud:  The name says it all.

Deep:  “It’s deep!” is often used to describe deep powder days. Usually over a couple of feet. People often describe how deep it is by where the powder reaches to on their body, i.e. Chest Deep, Waist Deep, Knee Deep.

Fluff:  Soft snow that is quite light and fluffy.

Fresh:  Used to describe recent snowfall that hasn’t been touched.  The most famous term..'No friends on freshies'!

Hard Pack:  Used to describe snow that has been ridden over many times, packed down, and often icy.

Ice:  No longer snow anymore. Ice describes conditions where your edges slip out from underneath you because it’s so slick its like trying to ski on a slanted ice skating rink.

Mashed Potatoes:  Often associated with spring skiing, this snow is the effect of warm weather and the sun's harsh rays.

Pillows:  A pillow is a formation of a large amount of powder, usually on rocks, which looks like a pillow and often explodes into a white fluffy cloud on impact.

Slush:  Snow that is often found during the spring that is wet and sloppy because of warm temperatures and sun exposure - so it melts throughout the day.  It's often combined with bulletproof in the morning and slushy in the afternoon.

Smoke:  Often used to describe snow that seems to float away like smoke when skied on.

Washed Out:  A term used often to describe wet snow in spring, or the conditions when the top layer of piste snow is scrapped off and moved to the side because of the share quantity of skiers on the piste.  It normally means a horrible end-of-the-day ride on mogul-like pistes.

Wind Lip:  Where the wind creates a large formation of snow which is usually followed by a drop.

Wind Buffed:  Crunchy on the top, soft in the middle. Heavy winds create this type of snow.

WTF Snow:  This is snow that seems like it will be good until you ski on it. Looks like powder, but looks can be deceiving.

Yellow Snow:  Snow, many of us, are familiar with. Don’t eat this snow. You will regret it.

So these cover the multitude of snow condition terminology you may hear up on the mountain.    


From the team at Spinnaker Bay Apartments, Queenstown - Stay safe but have fun out there!