What is Sierra Cement?

The Sierra Mountains are known for things like stunning peaks, pristine lakes, and incredibly deep winter snow. Have you heard of Sierra cement though?

If you ski or snowboard at Mammoth Mountain then you’ve probably ridden over it before even if you didn’t know it. The ASO Mammoth team has broken down what you need to know about Sierra cement below so you can plan your next day on the snow. Check it out, then stop by the ASO Mammoth shop for the best ski and snowboard rentals in Mammoth Lakes!

Sierra Cement Forms After Warm Winter Storms

If you ski or snowboard at Mammoth or anywhere in the Sierras, then you already know how heavy the snowfall here can be.

When those storms roll through and combine with temperatures that hover just at freezing, the snow comes down just as heavily but the warm temperatures keep it wet and heavy unlike colder snow which is dry and light.

Since these storms are common in the Sierras and the snow is heavy, it has earned the name Sierra cement.

Away from the slopes, Sierra cement can also mean snow that has had rain fall on it, frozen over, and hardened into ice. This type of snow can be dangerous due to the strain it puts on buildings after it piles on top of them.

Sierra Cement Creates Stable Snowpacks

Although heavy snow like Sierra cement can be dangerous away from the slopes, it also creates reliably firm snowpacks.

If you ski in a resort, then you have avalanche danger managed for you. However, if you ski in the backcountry then there’s a chance that the slopes avalanche as you ski or snowboard on them, especially after heavy snowfall.

However, since Sierra cement quickly forms into a stable snowpack due to its weight, it’s less likely to avalanche than other snow types. While that may not seem like a big deal if you’re a resort skier, it does determine how long it takes for the mountain staff to clear heavy snow after a storm.

That’s why many resort and backcountry skiers alike love Sierra cement!

Sierra Cement Can Be Hard to Ski Through

Sierra cement may form stable snowpacks, but that can also make it difficult to ski or snowboard through.

Even after several inches of Sierra cement fall, it can still be too thick to make deep turns through like you would on a regular powder day. For that reason, some people don’t like skiing on Sierra cement. Plus, if you break through the top layer of Sierra cement and get stuck it can be extremely difficult to get out of.

You’ll have to experience Sierra cement to see if you like or dislike skiing and snowboarding on top of it, but regardless of what you think we have the gear you need to make the most of it. Come rent or demo a board or set of skis from ASO Mammoth to make the most of Sierra cement!