Question about Snow at Trail Summits

joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
in NELSAP Forum Posts: 1,864
It struck me: Day after day, run after run, skiers make turns and with each turn, some snow is pushed downhill.  After thousands of runs, why doesn't the snow surface at the top of the hill become thin or even uncovered.  Now these days, one could hypothesize that groomers push the snow back or snow makers replenish it, but I don't remember this being a problem even in the pre-snowmaking days.

Can any of you explain this phenomenon or better yet, seen some mathematical analysis of it?

Comments

  • mapnutmapnut expert
    Posts: 850
    Typical summit trails start off flat, but also narrow and few. I'm thinking of the little wraparound trail at Berkshire East that starts right from the quad and accesses Big Chief, Flying Cloud, Liftline, Competition, UMass, Grizzly and Minnie Dole. Probably gets 2/3 of all the traffic, but you don't have to turn much on it.
  • lotsoskiinglotsoskiing expert
    Posts: 824
    Little turning
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    Posts: 1,864

    Little turning

    If little turning was the issue, as both you and mapnut suggested, you would expect a significant bare area just below the summit where the pitch starts for real.  My observations do not support that.
  • mapnutmapnut expert
    Posts: 850
    Well, to continue with my Berkshire East example, something like 30 skiers per minute get divided up among 7 trails before there's any pitch. However I'm sure we're all familiar with having to pick our route among bare or icy patches at the top of a steep pitch, so I'm sure Joshua's right about snow getting pushed downhill.  Photos anyone?
  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    Posts: 1,148
    Where's Newman!?  He could likely give us the lowdown on this.  Or anybody else in mountain ops for that matter
  • newpylongnewpylong expert
    edited May 1 Posts: 582
    It is all about turning or lack thereof at high speeds as has been stated.
  • mapnutmapnut expert
    Posts: 850
    I don't know about high speeds; I've scraped plenty of snow down the hill at low speeds!
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    Posts: 1,864
    newpylong said:

    It is all about turning or lack thereof at high speeds as has been stated.

    Ever notice how much snow a beginner plows off? Advance skiers use less snow!
  • newpylongnewpylong expert
    edited May 1 Posts: 582

    newpylong said:

    It is all about turning or lack thereof at high speeds as has been stated.

    Ever notice how much snow a beginner plows off? Advance skiers use less snow!
    And where does that snow goes at slow speeds? Just about nowhere.

    Easier to fix back up because yes beginners "push" a lot of snow but it doesn't go far due to slow speed and lack of pitch. Easily fixable without resurfacing. From an Ops side that's my take.
  • NELSBEERNELSBEER advanced
    Posts: 273
    May be as simple as they blow more snow on top due to people scraping it off, wind scouring, unload ramp demands, expected melting and beginners. I know at Crotched our patrol shack porch goes from 4 feet in the air to flush or even below trail level pretty quickly once snow making ramps up. After all the top is the logical place to bank snow if you know it will be needed to be pushed out later.

    Also a buried top looks really good in publicity photos (or on web cam if there is one)...

      
  • ciscokidciscokid expert
    Posts: 1,583
    Always see boarders going sideways pushing any fresh down
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    Posts: 1,864
    NELSBEER said:

    May be as simple as they blow more snow on top due to people scraping it off, wind scouring, unload ramp demands, expected melting and beginners. I know at Crotched our patrol shack porch goes from 4 feet in the air to flush or even below trail level pretty quickly once snow making ramps up. After all the top is the logical place to bank snow if you know it will be needed to be pushed out later.

    Also a buried top looks really good in publicity photos (or on web cam if there is one)...

      
    What you say is a plausible explanation for the snowmaking/grooming era,  but I don't remember this being a problem even in the pre-snowmaking days. Really exposed summits like Whiteface and Cannon would get down to the ice and rime but that was more due to wind rather than skier traffic.
  • CannonballCannonball advanced
    Posts: 147
    ciscokid said:

    Always see boarders going sideways pushing any fresh down


    Joshua's answer applies to boarders as well as skiers.....

    newpylong said:

    Ever notice how much snow a beginner plows off? Advance skiers use less snow!

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