Learn How To Distinguish Trail Difficulty
While the idea of skiing may inspire images of powdery snow, gorgeous vistas and steamy hot chocolate, it is important to remember that skiing is no walk in the park. It is, however, a thrilling sport that can satiate anyone’s need for an adrenaline rush. If you’ve always wanted to try out skiing but have not yet had the opportunity to do so, this guide can help you get started.
You can tell how hard a trail is by the symbol on the trail marker or ski map. In North America, trail difficulty is indicated as follows:
- A green circle indicates an easy, or beginner, trail. These trails are not too fast, will contain few obstacles and aren’t too long. These trails also don’t have a very steep grade.
- A blue square indicates an intermediate trail. It may contain some obstacles or steeper grade and you shouldn’t go on these until you’ve mastered the easier trails.
- A black diamond indicates a difficult trail. It may contain obstacles, moguls (small hills of snow), and a steep grade with a narrow way down. Don’t attempt a trail like this if you are inexperienced. Although you might think you are ready, you probably aren’t. Many people have been injured by attempting too difficult a run too early.
- A double black diamond, or a black diamond with an exclamation mark in it, indicates a run that should only be attempted by very good skiers. Don’t go down a run like this unless you are completely comfortable with all other kinds of runs. It’s also a good idea to go with a partner. Once you are ready for a double black, be sure it does not have « EX » in the middle. This indicates an ‘Expert Only » trail, the only thing harder than is heli-skiing. (Where they drop you off in helicopters. These slopes are very avalanche prone.)