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Trail rating system in Europe

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
In America I am used to us having green, blue, black diamond and double black diamond trails. I was reading an article today on a British website that referred to trails having green, blue, red and black ratings. Could someone please describe for me how trails are rated in Europe and how the ratings might compare to trails in the US?
post #2 of 7
Green = Beginners
Blue = Intermediate
Red = Advanced
Black = Expert

Now, these are relative to the resort, but the best thing to do, if you're a reasonably good skier is to ski a couple of reds and see what you think, then go from there.

If you're looking for a resort with a lot of blacks, and see that Courchevel is only 11% black, just remember that 11% of Courchevel in terms of acreage, is bigger than all of Vail...
post #3 of 7
Green = Green
Blue = Green/Blue
Red = Blue/Black Diamond
Black = Dbl Blackdiamond

But all this varies by resort depending on how they want market the resort they will reclassify runs to to appeal to a target market. Cynical but true and applies to US and Europe.

Most European runs are much longer with large sustained vertical rather than the short steep pitches of many USA resorts (not including JH!). There is no defined ski area just markred runs (Pistes) and off piste so you can ski where you like off piste. The Pistes are avalanche controlled but other areas are not unless they threaten the piste or resort. Obsticles are much more clearly marked on marked runs. Nearly every rock or hole will be staked.

French resorts don't give a damn about punters, so lifty will be in the hut smoking his Gauloise not loading the chair, the lift queue will be a bar room brawl definately no organised lines, grooming will be more akin to ploughed field than the perfect corduroy
you get in the US.

Totaly different cultural experience.

Having skiied both I haven't been back to Europe for the last 7 years, I'd rather take the transatlantic flight to western US or Canada!
post #4 of 7
bloxy, fair points.

Yes, you will find runs in Europe which are 5-10 miles long
post #5 of 7
I'd disagree with bloxy's generalization's about Europe. I've skied many years in France & Switzerland and the experience of skiing the Alps or Pyrénées is better than what I've found in the States (East & West Coast). Last year, I was in the 3 Vallées and nearly every lift was a detachable chair lift or a gondola. Do you really need a lift attendant to sit you down on those? The lines are a mess during school vacation but besides that I've never had a single problem...

As for the rating it's subjective to each resort as it is in the States. It's a four point system like in the States. Green being the easiest and black being the hardest. Same as in the States, a black at one resort might be harder or easier than a black at another one. Anything red or black, you should basically know how to ski in control on a steep slope.

PS: I still need to ski JH and see how that compares... I'm eager to do so...
post #6 of 7
Concerning the black/expert runs:
As mentioned just very few resorts do a close to fair rating when it comes down to marking runs accordingly. Especially family orientated resorts tend to overestimate the runs difficulties by far, tagging intermediate slopes at best as blacks. Despite very few exceptions this even applies to most of the big French and Italian resorts I skied so far especially when compared to their Swiss and Austrian counterparts. For the latter I personally found their rating to be more accurate on an average.

But due to the mostly open bowls there's usually the oportunity of inspecting slopes closely on the way up before entering such, so no need to get too concerned about it.
post #7 of 7
I have been to Europe only two times, but the ski patrollers were less concerned about people skiing faster than everywhere I've been in the U.S. (I ski only the West and British Columbia). I skied so fast in Chamonix down very steep stuff (to me) and not once did anybody tell me to "Slow Down!" Here in the States, ski patrol are more concerned that you keep your speed down (despite how good a skier you are doesn't matter to them). Only Snowbird, Solitude, Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, Loveland, A-Basin, Alta, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Taos, Bridger Bowl don't care how fast you ski - if you ski in control.
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