Shredding the Gnar
… And other things people say at the mountain
Story by Ian Ferguson
Ever wonder what the word bomber means when used as an adjective? What does it mean to billy-goat a line? If someone tells you to “send it,” and you’re nowhere near a post office, what should you do?To help answer these and other questions, we’ve come up with a short list of eclectic terms you might hear in the lift line, defined and in alphabetical order. This sampling of mountain terminology will help you distinguish a “gimli” from a “gaper,” “hot cheese” from “chowder,” and a “safety break” from a “hose off.” So the next time someone invites you to go harvest some goose nectar, you won’t question their sanity.
To hop across highly exposed terrain while traversing to an objective.
Snow that has been packed by use into an impervious ice shield that thwarts all attempts at edge control. Most often applies to East Coast conditions.
Term for anything good or solid that garners approval. Originated in the climbing community to describe “bomb-proof” protection, because anything attaching a climber to a cliff face should be very solid.
The cavity created by a botched landing below a cliff face or jump.
Powder snow that has been chopped up by turns becomes chunky powder, or “chowder.” Also known as “chunder.”
Dumping, puking, nuking:
Interchangeable terms for heavy snowfall, i.e. “It’s nuking at Baker today.”
To fall, hard.
Powder hitting you in the face as you ski or ride through it.
A one-piece ski suit.
Someone who appears out of place at a ski area due to their attire: jeans tucked into ski boots from the ‘80s, lack of hat or helmet, and non-water-repellent top layer. Looks can be deceiving, as even the worst-dressed skiers and snowboarders have been known to shred with the best, and the latest ski and snowboard fashion does not a great rider make.
A rad-looking skier or rider with a massive beard.
This generally positive adjective derives from the base “G.N.A.R.,” which stands for Gaffney’s Numerical Assessment of Radness. Skiers Scott Gaffney, Shane McConkey and other Squaw Valley locals came up with a game wherein participants earn points by successfully executing daring and/or hilarious stunts. An example would be doing a backflip over a cliff, with more points added if the backflipper is naked.
Thus any action on skis or snowboard that is viewed as awesome could be considered “gnarly.” “The gnar” can also be used to describe impressive lines on steep faces, as in, “Let’s go shred the gnar on Shuksan Arm.”
Goose nectar, hot cheese:
Colorful terms to describe great, fresh snow.
Lining up turns parallel to each other in a powder field so as to maximize each rider’s experience of fresh powder. When done properly, the face looks like undulating rows of a wheat field.
What often happens in the backcountry. It means trying to outdo one another’s feats, and can lead to stupidity. Fact: Term coined by a man named Harry Johnson, and first used to describe the entire plot of “Game of Thrones.”
To throw oneself off a jump or feature with apparent disregard for personal safety.
Juice it, stick it, milk it, send it, stomp it, shred it:
To successfully land or ride out from a line or jump. Canadian equivalent: “Give ’er.”
Large jump built with shovels (as opposed to a natural feature). If built like a large right-triangle, can be called a “cheese-wedge.”
Derogatory term for a skier or snowboarder who spends most of their time in the terrain park.
Short for radical. A term first made popular in the ’90s by “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” rad is experiencing a resurgence.
Run a train:
To hit a commonly hit feature.
A spray of powder following a turn.
A brief excursion into the woods with skiing/riding partners to realign one’s psyche before attempting great feats of skiing or snowboarding. Can be herbally supplemented.
To ski or snowboard well.
A line, face, or feature of questionable safety. Commonly applied to avalanche-prone areas that have an unconsolidated snow layer.
Out-of-bounds territory that can be accessed from the ski lift. The term combines the term “backcountry” with the term “slacker,” because it’s a lazier method of accessing backcountry zones (as opposed to hiking up from the bottom).
Steezy, dope, gangster, tall, sick:
Affirmative terms of encouragement most often used between skiers who spend time in the terrain park.
When a skier or snowboarder falls on a sufficiently steep slope at a sufficient speed, they tumble head over heels like a tomahawk thrown at an enemy. Appropriate response from viewers on the chairlift include making an Indian call or, if the person seems injured, yelling for help from ski patrol.
Adjective used to describe a powder field that has been obliterated by tracks.
An ever-sought, nirvana-like state of riding through powder so deep it obscures all vision.
A crash that results in the loss of equipment such as skis, poles, mittens and pride. X