Activities The Great Outdoors A Guide to the Different Types of Snow Share PINTEREST Email Print Getty Images / mbbirdy The Great Outdoors Skiing Basics Gear Hiking Climbing Snowboarding Surfing Paddling Fishing Sailing Scuba Diving & Snorkeling Learn More By Mike Doyle Mike Doyle is an award-winning skiing journalist who grew up in New York snow country and has skied all over the world. our editorial process Mike Doyle Updated February 15, 2019 If you're an avid skier, it's important to know about the different types of snow--and there are a lot. This knowledge can help you interpret the latest ski reports. More importantly, it can help you become a better skier as you learn to recognize the challenges (and joys) that different snow types present. Snow Glossary Ball Bearings - Little firm balls of snow that form around or under skis. Blue - Clear ice, the ground is visible underneath it. Breakable Crust - Top is frozen solid but underneath there is soft powder. Brown - Mud showing through, often during springtime. Bulletproof - White, but so densely packed it is hard to carve into. California Concrete - Heavy wet snow that is created by a Pacific storm. Chokable - Powder that is so fine and deep you could choke on it. Chop - Powder that has had several fresh trails carved through it, but few lumps. Chowder - Heavy, wet, lumpy snow. Colorado Super Chunk - Heavy, wet snow about two days after a spring storm. Cornice - A formation of windblown snow, also known as an overhang, that is unstable and hard to see from the windward side. Cauliflower - Snow found near the base of the snow gun, lumpy and ungroomed. Champagne Powder - Snow with extremely low moisture content, often found out West. Cold Smoke - The airy trail of powder that follows skiers in fresh powder. Corduroy - The finely ridged surface of the snow after a snowcat has groomed a trail. Corn - Wet and granular, as it melts during the day it may become sloppy and heavy. Crud - Powder that has been heavily skied on and needs to be groomed. Crust - Soft snow that has a frozen top layer caused by freezing rain or melting and refreezing. Dust on Crust - A light covering of loose snow on top of the snow that has a hard, icy outer layer. Freshie - Virgin new-fallen snow on the mountain found first thing in the morning. Frozen Granular - Snow with a consistency like sugar. Granular - Snow that has big flakes that resemble rock salt. Grapple - Small hail or sleet that may be rounder and thicker than typical hail or sleet. Hardpack Snow - Firm compressed snow that is almost icy. Loose Granular - Small, loose pellets of snow created by the grooming of wet or icy snow. Mashed Potatoes - Lumpy, soft snow usually found in springtime. Penitents - Tall blades of snow found at higher altitudes. Pillow Drift- A snow drift across a road. Poo Ice - Packed, dirty snow. Pow-Pow or Pow-Fresh - Loose and fluffy powder. Powder - Freshly fallen, extremely soft snow formed by tiny flakes. Packed Powder - Snow that is compressed and flattened either by ski traffic or by grooming equipment. Salt on Formica - Looks and feels like loose white salt granules sliding on top of a hard surface. Sierra Cement - Similar to mashed potato snow but cold, very heavy, wet, and often found in the Sierra Mountain range. Slush - Snow that is starting to melt, very heavy and very wet. Smud - Brown or muddy snow. Snirt - Snow covered in dirt, most often during the spring months. Snowdrift - Large piles of snow near walls or curbs formed by the wind. Souffle Dure - Naturally packed, firm snow that occurs after a snowfall on steep, north-facing gullies called couloir. Styrofoam - Looks and feels like skiing on Styrofoam and sounds very hollow or empty. Surface Hoar - Corn-flake shaped frost that forms on the surface of snowpack on cold, clear nights. Snow Grains - Very small, white, grains of ice. Snow Pellets - A form of precipitation that is created when supercooled droplets of water collect and freeze on a snowflake. Watermelon - A reddish/pink snow that smells like watermelon, caused by red-green algae. Wet Granular: Very wet snow, often found in spring conditions, that packs easily. Wet Powder - Powder that has been rained on, making it very fast and hard to ski on. Wind Slab - A layer of stiff, hard snow created by deposition of wind-blown snow on the leeward side of a ridge. Yukimarimo - Balls of fine frost formed at low temperature in places like Antarctica during weak wind conditions. Zastrugi - Snow surfaces created by wind blowing into ridges and grooves.