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Avalanche Institute

 

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Boot Packing

Also: Skier Compaction

Mechanical reworking of snow to harden it and to prevent depth hoar formation, usually by a large number of people walking up and down the slopes or skiing on them. This increases snow density and strength.

Boot packing affects deeper layers than skier compaction or ski-cutting. This method is generally limited to small areas due to the manpower required.

Boot packing compresses any depth hoar which has formed and helps prevent its formation by decreasing pore space and is usually done early in the season. Skier compaction breaks up the continuity of new snow weaknesses and weak layers closer to the surface and is done throughout the season. Ski areas sometimes accomplish this by encouraging traffic on certain slopes.

While these are methods used by organizations such as ski areas (and less commonly highways, etc) skier compaction does play a role in some off-piste and backcountry areas. Heavily used slopes are sometimes more stable in the upper layers because of this.

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