When it comes to snowboarding there are two important types of snow to consider. The first things that come to mind for many people are powder and non powder. While these are apt descriptions of perhaps ideal snowboarding conditions, they do not describe the type of snow that the majority of us will find each day.
Most of us will find a type of snow that falls in to two categories, crust and crud. Each type of snow is very different from the other and requires different riding considerations. Lets begin by looking at the type of snow called crud.
Crud snow is a condition that is caused by extensive use on a powdery surface and is usually earmarked by patches of slippery compact snow inter-spaced with ever changing peaks and bumps. Crud is formed when many people ride over powdery snow. The actions of many people tend to compact the surface with lumps and bumps of snow while leaving patches of ice in between.
Riding on crud surfaces can be very challenging since the lay out of the terrain is constantly changing. Every time a peak in the crud snow is compacted the snow that used to be there is either compacted in to an ice patch or moved to build another peak elsewhere. The key to riding this type of surface is to use an approach similar to riding Mongols. Keep your body evenly weighted, your knees bent and ready to absorb the shocks of going over peaks and keep your eyes focussed upon your goal. Looking at where you are going, as opposed to what you are riding over, will help you maintain you balance in the event of a sudden peak or catching an edge.
The other type of snow that you will encounter is known as crust. Crust snow is what happens when the surface of powder snow melts and then re-freezes. This action leaves a layer of ice on top of the snow that can make navigating much more challenging than normal. Ice is not a surface for beginning snowboarders, as it requires finer movements than any other surface and the results of not being delicate enough are painful bails.
The key to riding crust snow is getting through to the workable layer under neither the surface ice. The best way to do this is with a more forceful riding style than you are used to. Be sure to ride with more of your edge than you normally would. When turning, use a jump turn to help force your snowboard through the top layer of ice and in to the workable lower layer.
Knowing your riding conditions will enable you to get the most out of your day of riding. Just as the environment around you is constantly changing, so should your riding style. By being aware of your surrounding you are sure to get the most out of each run regardless of the exact conditions.