Powder Snow: Skiing. loose, usually fresh snow that is not granular, wet or packed.- v.t.
Webster’s Dictionary.

We think that Noah Webster didn’t quite get it right, and was obviously not a skier.

So here is our definition:

“Quite possibly the best snow to ski. Soft and deep, giving the sensation of floating in air. Soft white waves flowing around the body with the skis out of sight for most of the day. The finest, light powder is often like smoke rising and falling in the cold air of a mid winter’s day. Not easy to ski and requiring a delicate touch and awareness of weighting, unweighting, and steering. What skiers dream about during the long summer months.”

We certainly dream about it and a good powder day is the best reason we can think of to take a day off work and ignore any consequences. A perfect powder day is as close to heaven as you can get here on earth. While the Sierra powder is not as predictable as that of the mountain states we have some excellent days in the mid winter months of February and March.

Even weeks after the most recent storm we have excellent “powder pockets,” where the snowpack has metamorphosed into great smoky powder.

Here is a video account of a personal ski to Red Mountain near Tom’s Place in great light powder smoke.


We highly recommend that you spend at least one night at moderate altitude (higher than 8,000 feet) just prior to the trip. Spending a night or two in Mammoth or camped at the trailhead campground would do the trick.

SMC does not rent ski equipment, but we work with Mammoth Mountaineering (760-934-4191) to get you set up on the correct equipment. MMS has a very wide range of rental equipment that is probably the best you will find anywhere in California. All gear is current state of the art, well tuned and rental fees are deductible if you buy a set up from them. (We highly recommend renting before you buy so as to find what suits you best, since a full setup is pretty pricey.) We can coordinate the rental and suggest that if you can you arrive Mammoth the night before and get fully set up since boot fitting can take some time.