• Welcome to AlpineZone, the largest online community of skiers and snowboarders in the Northeast!

    You may have to REGISTER before you can post. Registering is FREE, gets rid of the majority of advertisements, and lets you participate in giveaways and other AlpineZone events!

Salting Trails?

MadMadWorld

Active member
Joined
Jan 10, 2012
Messages
4,082
Points
38
Location
Leominster, MA
Just saw on Sugarloafs FB page that they have been salting trails to maintain their base. When I was in Chile I saw a few resorts do this late in the season. Is this a common practice in NE? Does anyone know the science behind it? What other things do mountains do to keep their snow in the spring? .....other than making more
 

steamboat1

New member
Joined
Aug 15, 2011
Messages
6,613
Points
0
Location
Brooklyn,NY/Pittsford,VT.
I've never been there myself but a friend that was said they do the same thing at Timberline during the summer. Don't know the science behind it since I always thought that salt was used to melt snow like on roads. My friend said they did this at Timberline to soften the snow after freezing overnight. Since it's been cold maybe Sugarloaf is doing this for the same reason.
 

St. Bear

New member
Joined
Dec 22, 2008
Messages
2,946
Points
0
Location
Washington, NJ
Website
twitter.com
I don't think salt melts ice, I believe salting the roads makes the freezing point of water much lower, so there is less ice on the roads.

Using the same logic on ski trails, a lower freezing point would prevent the trails from freezing as much overnight, so the snow is softer earlier in the day.

I'm not sure if this is true, just working through it out loud.
 

180

Active member
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
1,799
Points
38
Location
mahopac, ny
Salting the snow makes it melt a little and then it gets harder when its groomed or skied.
 

WWF-VT

Active member
Joined
Sep 23, 2005
Messages
2,540
Points
38
Location
MA & Fayston, VT
My son has done summer camp at Timberline/Mt Hood where it's used regularly to keep the take offs and landings on park features from getting too sticky. I think most New England places just push and move around stockpiled snow to patch and keep trails open.
 
Last edited:

Riverskier

New member
Joined
Apr 20, 2009
Messages
1,099
Points
0
Location
New Gloucester, ME
My son has done summer camp at Timberline/Mt Hood where it's used regularly to keep the take offs and landings on park features from getting too sticky. I think most New England places just push and move around stockpiled snow to patch and keep trails open.

This is what Sugarloaf is going, salting park features. They aren't out salting the trails!
 

Plowboy

New member
Joined
Feb 13, 2006
Messages
183
Points
0
Location
Behind plow
Back in 94 I was at Mammoth mid April, they had a groomer set up with a big salt/sand v-box like you see on trucks. They would spread salt on all of the cat trails and run outs. It was 70 degrees, the salt made a big difference, if you skied off to the side it was rotten. This spring Sugarbush had some races on the top of Spring Fling, they put some salt down and for the past 3 weeks that section is peel away, the rest was mush. Google: Chemicals can be applied to the snow surface in order to harden the course. The most common chemicals used are sodium chloride, calcium chloride, urea, ammonium nitrate, and potassium nitrate. This "salting" is done mostly when the snow is wet and slushy. When a race course is salted, the salt crystals break up into ions. These ions lower the freezing point of the snow, which hardens the surface. This provides a dense layer of snow with a consistent surface throughout the course, making the race more fair for athletes skiing later in the race
 

MadPatSki

New member
Joined
Jun 16, 2011
Messages
604
Points
0
Location
Ottawa, ON
Website
madpatski.wordpress.com
Not only in April 94. Mammoth was still salting with their groomers on my visits there in June or/and July 2005, 2006 & 2010.

Then there are jumps and race camps in Summer.

The only reason I've seen salting occur in the East is when it get real warm and the salting isn't done on the trails, but in race course or on park features. When people are racing in the Spring, the last thing you want is get your skis caught in soft corn snow. Its a safety issue.
 

JimG.

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
11,192
Points
63
Location
Hopewell Jct., NY
I remember Killington salting a section of SS for the June slalom...it definitely did tighten up the snow in that section. It skiied much faster and more consistently.
 

SkiRaceParent

New member
Joined
Nov 28, 2012
Messages
141
Points
0
As others have chimed in on at the risk of repeating, salting is a critical aspect of alpine, especially when the conditions are warmer than freezing. Safety issues can occur when high rate of speed and angles with too soft snow. Also, the conditions on a softer course can degrade rapidly, giving the advantage to those skiers that have an early start.

The salt, best i have been told, melts and then refreezes the snow into more compact, harder surface, eliminating a lot of the higher water content that will make the corn snow or slush. I also understand in many advanced race circuits, such as the world cup, they inject the snow with water to make it harder and last longer for the entire field of competition.
 

bobbutts

New member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,560
Points
0
Location
New Hampshire
In the short term it makes a firmer surface for sure. Long term I don't know? I always assumed it would sacrifice some, but maybe that's incorrect. Any scientists here?
 

Puck it

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 26, 2006
Messages
9,613
Points
48
Location
Franconia, NH
It is done to hardened the trail. It helps to prevent the slush from forming. I works only if the temp goes below freezing at some point in the day.
 

bobbutts

New member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,560
Points
0
Location
New Hampshire
It is done to hardened the trail. It helps to prevent the slush from forming. I works only if the temp goes below freezing at some point in the day.

No..

From wikipedia:
[h=3]Salting[/h]Chemicals can be applied to the snow surface in order to harden the course. The most common chemicals used are sodium chloride, calcium chloride, urea, ammonium nitrate, and potassium nitrate. This "salting" is done mostly when the snow is wet and slushy. When a race course is salted, the salt crystals break up into ions. These ions lower the freezing point of the snow, which hardens the surface. This provides a dense layer of snow with a consistent surface throughout the course, making the race more fair for athletes skiing later in the race.
Two important factors that determine whether salt will work are crystal structure and moisture. Crystals that are too sharp will prevent the deep penetration of the salt into the snow. Crystals that are too round lack flat surfaces that can bond tightly to adjacent crystals. The snow also needs to have a moisture content of around 60%. Salting a race course works best when the weather is sunny and warm. Salting may also work when it is raining, since the rain adds moisture to the snow. In general, salt will not harden the snow if it is cloudy and just above freezing.
Salting is typically only done in slalom and giant slalom events. It is important to salt the apex of the turn especially well, because that is the part of the turn when the skier exerts the most pressure on the snow. Speed events (downhill and super giant slalom) have a larger surface area, making salting expensive; the high speeds of these events also make salting potentially dangerous.
 

Puck it

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 26, 2006
Messages
9,613
Points
48
Location
Franconia, NH
Yes!!!! The salts needs to mix with the snow or slush and then harden with a freeze. And then it becomes a denser surface.

No..

From wikipedia:
Salting

Chemicals can be applied to the snow surface in order to harden the course. The most common chemicals used are sodium chloride, calcium chloride, urea, ammonium nitrate, and potassium nitrate. This "salting" is done mostly when the snow is wet and slushy. When a race course is salted, the salt crystals break up into ions. These ions lower the freezing point of the snow, which hardens the surface. This provides a dense layer of snow with a consistent surface throughout the course, making the race more fair for athletes skiing later in the race.
Two important factors that determine whether salt will work are crystal structure and moisture. Crystals that are too sharp will prevent the deep penetration of the salt into the snow. Crystals that are too round lack flat surfaces that can bond tightly to adjacent crystals. The snow also needs to have a moisture content of around 60%. Salting a race course works best when the weather is sunny and warm. Salting may also work when it is raining, since the rain adds moisture to the snow. In general, salt will not harden the snow if it is cloudy and just above freezing.
Salting is typically only done in slalom and giant slalom events. It is important to salt the apex of the turn especially well, because that is the part of the turn when the skier exerts the most pressure on the snow. Speed events (downhill and super giant slalom) have a larger surface area, making salting expensive; the high speeds of these events also make salting potentially dangerous.
 

bobbutts

New member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
1,560
Points
0
Location
New Hampshire
Think a bit about the "recent freeze" requirement please.. Like the snow surface has some kind of memory..

The salt/snow,ice combo creates it's own lower temperatures. See an old fashioned ice cream maker for an example.
 
Top