Since we created the I Love Sierra Cement T-shirts, we sometimes get the question - What is Sierra Cement? The quick and easy answer is that it is a nickname for the snow the sometimes falls in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This heavy wet powder often occurs in mountain ranges close to the Pacific Ocean or other large bodies of water, like Lake Tahoe.
Some people consider it a negative term, here at The Mammoth Brand, our motto is "I Heart Sierra Cement". It provides a nice base for Ski Resorts and avalanches can be less likely in heavy snow. It also allows skiers and snowboarders to ride on top of powder, as opposed to sinking to your knees or waist, even when there is a couple feet of fresh.
I found this article on Snow Brains that defines it as "Very common in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this snow is often called Sierra Cement in the region. This snow is heavy wet powder, which is still great to ski on but can be hard to move through if you get in the thick of it. This is wet snow that forms at around 32 degrees and feels like cement when you are caught in it."
Some people in the Mammoth Lakes area will tell you that we don't get Sierra Cement, but if you have ever been on the hill or in the backcountry after one of the "warm" snowstorms that we get frequently, I think you'll beg to differ. I will submit to the fact that it is more common in Lake Tahoe ski areas, but we get our fair share at Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain....and we absolutely love it!