Have you ever heard there are over 100 different words the Inuit, or Eskimo, people of Alaska have for snow? It makes perfect sense as we pass into another crazy warm cycle in our snowy mountain wonderland. Snow is not just snow. Powder is not just powder. Ice is not just ice. There are so many variations on those words, variations that are driven by our experience of the weather, expectations from the precipitation, and memories of the cold and snow of winter.
Tla: The standard Inuit word for snow. It’s what makes our world go round here in the Yampa valley, be it plentiful or sparse, warm and heavy or freezing and angel dust light. This morning temps in Steamboat were in the teens, but over the next five days we are expecting highs in the mid 40’s. That fluctuation leads to some really amazing snow formations, not to mention some really fun skiing.
Tlamo: Snow that falls in large wet flakes. Much of our recent snowfall has come in warm, which doesn’t bring us the uber fluff we are so spoiled on, but it is exactly the snow we need to bind well and fill in on the firm surface underneath.
Kripya: Snow that has melted and refrozen. Overnight the cold temps pulled some of the moisture out of that heavier snow, causing the snow crystals to actually build upwards, forming surface hoar. I think I like the Inuit word better, as it is gorgeous snow, the crystals shining in the sun this morning sparkling like diamonds. It makes for really fun skiing too. If you venture into the trees, especially low angle trees, you will find untracked Kripya that skis fast and fun. You have to hunt for it, but it’s out there. Sotla: snow sparkling in the sunlight. Much better words than surface hoar……
Ashtla: Expected snow that’s wagered on. There is no new snow in the forecast through the holiday weekend. And while we love us some new snow, this will be a great blue bird weekend for those of you coming from out of town. The apres scene is cranking into high gear with the Steamboat Mardi Gras Festival kicking off tomorrow,
The sun and warm afternoons will be luring ski happy crowds to eat french fries and drink cold beverages all over the base area. Careful that you keep your reveling in check, as no one wants to be caught leaving Erolinyat: Snow drifts containing the imprint of crazy lovers.
Whether you ski, snowboard, monoski, snowblade, sit-ski, ski-bike, sled, cross country, skate-ski, or soak-in-the-February-rays, enjoy these gorgeous days. Maybe you’ll come up with your own words for snow. Regardless of your activities and experiences of snow, winter leaves us with Klin: remembered, cherished snow.
Ali Givnish, Alpine skier