White Words

White Words

Coil, Mike
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A while ago, I spotted an article in Outside which discussed the numerous words in the Inuit language for “snow.” The editors of the magazine were impressed that the members of the far northern tribes would have so many descriptive names for frozen water, which as I recall was around 40. Since I was pretty sure I had heard more than that, I compiled a list and sent it to them. My letter was published later that year, and once my friends started sending me new words, and I added descriptive terms relating to the quality of snow, the list grew from 70 to 171, three of which are too trashy to print. (Editor’s note: given inherent space constraints, we’ve included only the most relevant 124 here.)

One of the entries is especially notable. “Deathly deep” resulted from the tragic death of Mike Cavanna, who died when he hucked a cliff at Bridger Bowl in the massive storm of 2003 (98 inches in four days) and landed so deep he couldn’t get out of the snow before suffocating. The patrol didn’t find his body until two days later. RIP, brother.

ball bearings

base candy

blizzard

blower

blue ice

boilerplate

bottomless

buffed out

cake frosting

carvy

cascade cement

champagne

chicken heads

chocolate chips

chop

cold smoke

corduroy

corn

corn flakes

cream de mint

cream deluxe

cream on mean

creamy

crippler crust

crud

crust

dank fluffies

death cookies

death corn

death crust

death glaze

deathly deep

diamond dust

drift ice

dust on crust

dust on death

epic pow

feathery

finger drifts

fluff

fluff on buff

flurries

freshies

frosted concrete

frozen pleasure crystals

frozen raspberries

frozen volkswagens

funky death slab

glazed

glop

goose downy

grabby molasses

grits

graupel

groomed

hardpack

hero snow

hoarfrost

ice

machine-groomed

mashed potatoes

milk ice

moulin

mountain speed

packed powder

penitentes

phat pow

pillow drift

pinwheels

pixie dust

pleasure pocket

pooder

popcorn

pow

powder

rime

ripples

sastrugi

scoured

scratchy moguls

sierra cement

silky

slab

sleet

slide for life

slush

slurpy

snirt

snow

snow cookies

snow pellets

snowfall

snowflake

sticky

styrofoam

sugary

sun crust

sun dogs

super hero

surface hoar

talus pow

thundersnow

tracked out

unbonded

uncut

untracked

virgin powder

watermelon snow

wet cement

white ice

white rain

white smoke

white stuff

white zone

whiteout

wind butter

wind crust

wind deposit

wind groomed

wind loaded

wind ridges

wind ripple

wind slab

zipper

 

Tom Anderson helped compile this list. If you have additions, email us at [email protected] and we’ll add them.

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