Green Conditions

Energy – Green snow is so cold, and therefore so tough, that it is mostly unresponsive to work or energy input. Grooming it and skiing on it doesn’t do much to break it down and dull the sharp edges of the ice crystals. In short, it doesn’t absorb energy.

Temperature – Generally, Green conditions are found in bitter cold. Snow near the legal racing limit of -20C (-4F) is almost always “green” snow. When conditions are particularly dry and when the snowpack is deep or dense, and well refrigerated by an extended period of cold weather, green conditions can persist in temperatures warming up into the single digits below zero C.

Snow Crystals – Green conditions can occur with just about any type of snow crystals. Very new crystals are more delicate than somewhat transformed crystals, and will reach a point where they are prone to transformation sooner (at lower temperatures) than more transformed snow, so new snow won’t persistently stay “green” at rising temperatures as long as older snow. Fully transformed crystals are generally more prone to releasing moisture, and so they also won’t persistently stay “green” at rising temperatures. The most persistently green snow is fine-grained, partially transformed, dense and sharp snow.

Moisture – By definition, green snow has essentially no free moisture.

Feeling – Green snow feels gritty or sandy, and has very high static frictional qualities.

Skis – Green conditions demand a “cool” and long pressure distribution to help deal with very high static friction

Grinds – Very fine and very smooth grinds are critical. In general, interrupted or crossing structures provide too much mechanical interface.

Waxing Considerations – Very hard surface treatments are necessary to combat the extremely aggressive crystals. Kick wax often involves binder because of the abrasive nature of the crystals. Kick is not hard to find, and is almost always drywax.

Geography – Green snow is most common a long way from the moderating influence of the ocean. The upper Midwest frequently experiences bitter cold conditions, particularly with the introduction of very strong continental polar high pressure which follows an Alberta Clipper storm system. Skiers in the upper Midwest should be sure to have dedicated green conditions skis and grinds. At the coasts, green conditions are much less common, and may not be a priority in fleet set-up.