Skeena Heliskiing just shared a beautiful yet eerie video of what it’s like to float through snow-laden trees, or “snow ghosts” as it refers to them, hovering above the frozen landscape as if you were a spectre yourself. Watch it below.
Anyone who’s ever gone backcountry skiing on a real mountain is familiar with snow ghosts: the mystical-looking structures that haunt the peaks and ridges near our favourite runs. What many people don’t know, however, is that the term “snow ghost” does not refer to a tree encrusted in snow (which is what this video by Skeena Heliskiing mostly features). Nor are they aliens, monsters or abominable snowmen.
Snow ghosts are any structure (such as lift towers, signs, trees or buildings) that are layered in a type of ice called rime, not snow as most would believe. They’re formed by clouds or fog made up of super-cooled water droplets that remain in a liquid state between 0 and -40°C because they don’t have a freezing nuclei. (In other words, there aren’t any particles in the air for the water droplets to freeze around.) However, the instant this mass of water shrouds a mountain top or ridge line, the droplets come into contact with trees (or other objects) and freeze. Over time these layers build up and the wind shapes them into extraordinary sculptures.
Many of us have ski toured past snow ghosts before but to float through them, as if we too were a spectral form, is something unique. That’s why we had to share Skeena Heliskiing’s latest video that was sent out via Twitter. It’s an ethereal romp through terrain typical to the Skeena Mountains, which flanks the upper basin of the Skeena River in northern British Columbia. Granted, most of the trees in the video are conifers with snow-laden branches and, as described above, they’re not true “snow ghosts” but nonetheless this is a great reminder that skiing in the mountains is indeed a supernatural experience.
— Skeena Heliskiing (@skeenaheliski) January 6, 2017