I really want people to be able to give an idea of the ski conditions.
Maybe thinking about different “dimensions” of different parts of the snowpack could be more helpful than finding a single word to cover the whole experience.
part A - soft layer (presumably on surface, but perhaps
could also describe underneath a surface crust)
1) surface depth (by ski pole) - (could be None).
2) type of softness: dry snow versus wet recent snow versus old corn
(perhaps add special snow types: graupel, surface hoar, etc)
3) lightness versus heaviness
4) ? stickiness? hitting underlying hard layer? etc.
part B - underlying (or surface) hard layer:
1) supportiveness / thickness—range from:
* None - no hard layer detectable.
* “zipper” crust - thin layer that is easily breakable
(not difficult to ski, but nicer if absent)
* breakable crust (in an inconsistent way difficult to ski)
* mostly supportive, sometimes breakable
* supportive (consistently)
* thick (could be expected to still be supportive even
after some melting on a warm day)
2) hardness / edge-ability—range from:
* soft-ish (with an even softer or rotten layer underneath)
* easy pleasant edging (recent sharpening not necessary)
* reliable edge-grip for a strong skier (with decently sharp skis)
* “icy” hardpack - tricky, inconsistent edge-grip even for a strong skier.
* exposed old neve : “alpine” ice from multiple seasons
* “water” ice : formed in current season by radical melt-refreeze
(very low air content, virtually impossible to edge with a ski)
3) ? etc ?
Z - overall snowpack:
1) variable versus uniform
2) smooth versus wind-erosion versus debris
3) exposure (thinking mainly of a sliding fall—this “dimension” would be a combination of slope steepness, surface hardness on this particular day, and consequences of what a sliding fall would hit or go over. Perhaps sort of like TopoNeige “exposition”, but applied with knowledge of the specific snowpack on this particular day).
4) ? etc ?
Overall seems complicated - (like actual ungroomed snow). Maybe too complicated for this purpose. Or maybe whoever is entering the report only selects those “dimensions” which seem relevant, and ignores the rest.
I’ve tried to stay with things which are reasonably observable by an amateur tourer (like me) without performing special procedures like digging a snow pit. (therefore nothing about “depth hoar"). Perhaps could add “amateur” observational dimensions which might be useful for avalanche forecasting (e.g. “surface hoar").