The process of the entire snowpack sliding as a unit on the ground.

Credit: Sawtooth Avalanche Center

Gliding initially occurs at speeds that are imperceptible to the human eye and forms visible cracks through the snowpack (called glide cracks). Glide may cause the entire snowpack to release suddenly and catastrophically in the form of a Glide Avalanche. Glide is typically caused by meltwater lubricating the ground, though in some cases gliding can occur when temperatures are well below freezing. Glide occurs on very specific slopes where the ground surface is smooth, such as slick bedrock or grassy fields.

Several avalanches produced by gliding on bedrock. Credit: Flathead Avalanche Center