Originally Posted by zavoq
Thanks for the link. http://3dskimaps.com/ is pretty cool and provides a good starting point, if we can assume that steepness and difficultly are directly related at least to some degree.
I understand that difficulty will change based on snow conditions annual snowfall and time of year, but it seems like there should be a rating system to provide an average difficulty rating. Something like the Slope Rating in Golf:
There are issues I think with doing that for skiing :
1) The main reason it exists for golf courses is not to let you compare courses for yourself - it's to allow for proper handicap application and competition, which doesn't really exists for skiing. So there's no real motivation for an organization to spend the time/money to do it.
2) As mentioned, snow conditions determine difficulty a lot, as well as other local variations that change all the time. (bumps? groom? ice? powder? rocks showing? etc.)
3) The area you're talking about evaluating for a large resort would be much, much, much more difficult to get a measure of and classify than a relatively neat and tidy golf course. A golf course is ~4.2 miles of holes. A resort with the equivalent of narrow well defined slopes could probably be classified, but that's a small-ish resort. And bowls may present lots of different ratings all at once.
That all said, I think some subjective lists assuming typical snow conditions might actually be useful. As you mentioned, JH is pretty well known for being more difficult than some other places. Taos has a similar rep, while Vail seems to have the opposite. I wonder if there is a list like that somewhere?
Or in lieu of that, perhaps there could be some standardization in the green/blue/black ratings? Although really, it all works pretty darn well right now given all the variables at play.