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Diamonds.........Are a skiers best friend!!

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
How do the diamonds (black and double black), compare from the East coast (Ontario, and Quebec), to the West coast (Panarama, Fernie etc)? Is a double black here a blue out there, or something like that?
post #2 of 28
Uh oh! Well, lets say that skiing a diamond at Okemo is good preparation to ski a green run at Fernie, if they are having a major powder day!
post #3 of 28
The rankings of difficulty are all relative to whatever area you are skiing. There is no comparison from ski area to ski area. It doesn't matter what part of the country you're in.

The signs are there to tell you that if you are uncomfortable on part of a blue run you try at that area, you probably will be uncomfortable on an entire black run.
post #4 of 28
hmmmmmm! A diamond at one area might only be a blue or even a green at another area. It all depends on the area. Ratings are relative to each area. Since I have only skied the North East I can only speak of that area, but to give an example:
The blacks I skied at Balsams, NH was equivalent to a lower level blue,I skied at Burke MT, VT.
A bit of advice: If you are not sure about what you can handle start on a lower level than you would normally ski at your regular area, if that is easy, move to the next level until you find the terrain that is right for you.
post #5 of 28
We had a discussion about this awhile ago, and, as Kneale said, trails ratings are relative to the area you sre skiing in. Some resorts have been accused of rating trails as Green that should be rated Blue, simply to sell real estate on that side of the mountain.

That being said, from east to west, there are some vast differences. The obvious one, as I mentioned before, is powder. No matter how much of a "powder dump" we have ever gotten in the east, including Jay, nothing compares with Fernie.

The second difference is size, and depending on your endurance, size matters! Most trails out west are longer than east coats trails.

Of course, as in the east, there will be some variance within different resorts in the west. At Sunshine, a blue trail is of the same level of difficulty as an NE blue. In some ways easier, since everything is so wide. My husband skied one black that was not overly challenging.

So now that we have you completely confused, whan are ya'going? [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
Wouldn't it be nice if there was an international standard (ISO) on trail rating. I guess that the real question I'm trying to answer is what resort would be best for me. Here in London we have a vert of.....120'!!! The club and the ski patrol have labeled one trail...double black!!! Outragous!!!
I agree totally with start small and work up. There is nothing worse than getting to the top of a run and having to kick your skis off because you ended up in over your head.
This is a trip of a life time, maybe the only chance that I get to go.(NOT . Just don't let my wife know). I want to ski my a** off for 7 days and push the level, terrain, and fun to the limit.
The part that sucks is that I will be on my own. The boys have backed out, (to far away, and seems like to much money to try and save), and my wife doesn't ski. I guess that I might try to see if some bears would enjoy a week in the Rockies getting a face shot first thing in the morning.
BTW this trip is planned for 48 weeks from now (and counting )
post #7 of 28
Did I ever mention that I once met a guy from South Carolina who told me that he and his buddies were 'black diamond skiers'?!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 23, 2002 09:46 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Tominator ]</font>
post #8 of 28
I have a cousin who skis at Boler, and he says its real mellow. How much of a pain would it be to spend a few weekends at some of the more challenging east coast mountains, Jay, the Loaf, Trembalnt? Also, if you have really good skills, it will e easier to adapt to harder stuff. Find a teacher who really rocks, and let him "kick your butt!
post #9 of 28
By my second trip, I was a black diamond skier.

In Europe, we don't put diamonds on our black runs, they're just black. But I agree, there should be a global standard, in the same way there should be standards for how much skiing there is in a resort. In Europe we have km of runs, whereas North America goes for acreage. What does acreage mean? If you have ten wide pistes, you've got lots of acreage, but only 10 runs. If you've got 300km of runs, then there is 300km of piste.

Back to my original comment. After my first trip (in a borrowed ski jacket) I bought my own clothing - Phoenix Black Diamond Jacket & pants.
So, I was skiing black diamond in my second year!

post #10 of 28
Last week I skied with Ryan. After we did a
"double black" run (that was groomed!) I pointed out a sign at the lift that said "experts only". So now he is an expert.
And can you believe, he didn't even tip me! :
post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
Fox you are just TOOO FUNNY..
I've been to Tremblant and it is a pain to get there from here. It is about a 14 hr drive round trip. I do all my HARD CORE skiing up atMoon Stone or Blue Mountain. For you bears that live East or West, you don't know how good you really got it....(sorry, you do know [img]smile.gif[/img] )

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 23, 2002 12:51 PM: Message edited 1 time, by artimus ]</font>
post #12 of 28
I am not 100% sure but, meseems that in Italy they grade the runs using the same standards.
The problem comes with black, since there isn't anything above "black", then there is no upper limit (sort of), just a lower limit.
BTW all runs are groomed, here in Italy.
Un-groomed terrain is labelled "off-piste" and not graded.
post #13 of 28
Yes runs are marked Black Diamonds and Double Black according to that resort.Sometimes you wonder how they came to mark some runs Black Diamonds? One thing I have noticed is that some resorts are changing some of thier Diamond Runs to Double Black Diamond runs.I think it has more to do with marketing of the Resort then it does with difficulty of terrain.
Since your going on this trip by yourself Heres some thoughts.Most major resorts have no cost guided tours.Take a Morning tour on your first day. It's a great way to get to know the mountain and to see first hand what that resorts conciders a Green, Blue or Diamond run.These tours are not used by guest enough.It sure beats looking at a trail map and wondering how the hell did I get here? A lession is also a good way to learn the mountain.Tell the Instructor That not only do you want a lession but that you would also like to explore the Mountain.Have fun on your ski trip.
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Totally agree with the guest guide and the lesson. I will use both of these services if they are offered. How willing are instructors at showing thier private pow stashes? If pow is like a honey fishing hole, a highly gaurded secret. I can remember fishing a stretch of river and having a local interigate me on how I found "his" hole.
I guess that in one week I want it try it all. Maybe even a little cliff jumping. Any tips on this? Like, do I wear a mouth piece to protect all that dental work that I've paid for? Or is the landing into pow a soft landng?
So many questions, and a full year to have them answered!!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 23, 2002 03:50 PM: Message edited 1 time, by artimus ]</font>
post #15 of 28
Well Artimus,
Some things you have to find on your own.Powder Stashes are one of those things.
I have skied Deer Valley for 10 to 15 days a season for the past 6 years I feel I know most of the good stuff at Deer Valley. I was just shown a vary good Powder stash in some Aspens that I have skied passed hunderds of times. The trees look like they are just to tight to be any fun but once in them they open up.Do you think I'm going to give this spot up? Hell No!
post #16 of 28
At DV, anywhere you see trees is good. The negligent employees have thoughtlessly thinned the trees so as to entice unsuspecting Beverly Hills vacationers into exploring them, leaving the company wide open to countless lawsuits. But it's great skiing!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 24, 2002 12:35 PM: Message edited 1 time, by milesb ]</font>
post #17 of 28
I've ski'd a number of resorts in Switzerland and they seem fairly consistent in their grading - but then I went to Val d'Isere and found that everything was about 1 level harder.

Anyway, as people keep pointing out the conditions when you're there make a huge difference. The green runs in December (solid ice) were harder than the reds in Feb after new snow.

The piste map for Val d'isere helpfully tells you which runs aren't groomed.

Verbier cheats: they've reclassified a lot of their blacks as 'off-piste itineraries' which means they don't have to patrol them.
post #18 of 28

even if instructor does not show you his/hers private stashes, you will discover much more of a mountain than you would do on your own. Some of the resorts have general area marked as a black run but you get there and it is a ridge with a few entrance points and you have no idea what is below. The instructor will show you way around the mountain and from that point on you can start searching for good stuff on your own. But you will be armed with knowledge of where to go and NOT to go. It is definitely worth it when I visit the mountain for the first time.

As for difficulty, there is no question overall trails will be a few notches harder accross the board.

Have fun.
post #19 of 28

Since I skied all over Ontario and Quebec and I also skied Fernie I can tell you that the difference between ratings is significant. I will use Tremblant as an example (Blue Mountain is not even worth comparing):

Remember the upper sections of runs such as McCulloch, Kandahar, Taschereau, which are all black diamond runs on the South side of Tremblant? Well, many blue runs in Fernie are similar in difficulty. Some blue runs in the upper bowls in Fernie are even more challenging, more like Expo and Cossak (double blacks) on the North side of Tremblant. If you can ski these run in control, Fernie will be a blast for you.

Going one step further, are you familiar with Zig-Zag and Vertige on the south side (these are what I consider true double blacks due to their average 42 degree (93%) incline). If you can ski these in control, you can probably venture in some funky place in Fernie. However, these runs are very short and not very exposed, while in Fernie some blacks and double black are much more exposed and scary! Another factor to consider is the powder, which is something that you will have to get used to. But if you are a good skier and you get yourself some mid-fat or fat skis, you will love it.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 25, 2002 06:56 AM: Message edited 1 time, by TomB ]</font>
post #20 of 28
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Utah49:
Yes runs are marked Black Diamonds and Double Black according to that resort.Sometimes you wonder how they came to mark some runs Black Diamonds? One thing I have noticed is that some resorts are changing some of thier Diamond Runs to Double Black Diamond runs.I think it has more to do with marketing of the Resort then it does with difficulty of terrain.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Absolutely. Most resorts want to stick to a certain % of green, blue, and black for marketing purposes ("half of our terrain is blue"), so they just tweak everything until they get the formula they want.

The double black designation is sort of like the bit in Spinal Tap about "our amps go to eleven." Each resort has to show their terrain is just a little bit more kick ass than the competition's.

I guess the best advice is as others have said. If you aren't sure how tough the terrain is start on the greens and work your way up.
post #21 of 28
I think it's hard to compare East and West Black diamonds, since the snow and trail paths are often very different. For example, one of the tougher blacks around here is The Rumour at Gore Mountain in NY. Not just because it has a 55 degree headwall, but that it is rarely groomed, erratic, almost always bumped and very icy, and offers no real exit points if you get in trouble---very narrow. On the other hand, the Avalanche Slides at Mammoth are challenging too, but for different reasons. Also steep and also narrow (a little wider), but the snow is soft and copious. I found it safer than Rumour, but harder to ski well. Also, try the Slides at Whiteface, NY. Absolutely the sickest icefall skiing I ever tried. No fun for me.

As to absolute ratings of resort trails based on some national standard, that would be great, if it weren't a bureaucratic monster. Also, resort egos would not sit well if their place ended up with just greens and blues. One of skiing's exciting aspects is that each day's condidtions are different, and one resort to the next is different, meaning that your skills must be trasportable to whatever the particular mountain asks of you. BTW, I'll take the Mammoth-type skiing any day over rocks and ice!
post #22 of 28
Differences between resorts aside, I think there's plenty of reason to try to extend the current system at whatever resort you're at.

For instance, Jackson Hole has a bunch of double blacks. But within those runs they have all kinds of other trail signs such as "! Caution", "Danger Rocks", and "Warning: Cliffs". However, all of those areas are skiable. I see this same thing in Colorado and Utah. Sure, it's nice to know there's cliffs ahead, but shouldn't there be a more consistent way to mark this kind of stuff? I don't necessarily mean add a "triple black" designation, but shouldn't there be something a little more standard?

For instance, I was at Snowbird last year and skiing around an area with these little green "Warning: Cliffs" signs. I pretty much ignored them since at a lot of other places it doesn't mean a lot (except to make me ski _towards_ them.) Well, I got myself into a little bit of trouble. Sure I made it out, but not after skiing some pretty hairy stuff - stuff worse than Corbett's at JH. And what about Corbett's? It's got about a million signs telling you to be careful. But what about the other half million cliffs at JH? Half are just marked with bamboo.

Does it really concern me? Not really. However it would be nice to be able to tell from a trailmap or trail signs exactly what I want to ski rather than get to an area that looks interesting and find a boulder field littered with death cookies.
post #23 of 28

REd mountain used to have triples, and they took them off the map. Kicking Horse has no doubles, but compared to similar resorts, some of them ( a lot of them) should be!1

It IS relative to each mountain. I had a long chat with our area manager who was recovering form some visitor going off on him about how hard the cattrack was from the top. The green way down is the easiest way down, always.

post #24 of 28
This sounds like an opportunity for some lucky Bears to take up travel journalism and compose a book of ski areas. Like the trail guides for hikers and campers, or the river guides for boaters. The rating system could be as in white water or techinical climbing. One person would have to ski every run of every mountain! Yipee!!

On the other hand, there could be review boards and meetings and all sorts of administrations and bearocracy. Egos could be flattered and flattened. The measure of ones skiing prowess could be a number (I ski 7.9 terrain) instead of the size of the grin on ones face. There could be rating signs before every pitch like speed limit signs on country roads.

I believe the most difficult member of the standardized warning and rating group may be the matron Ma Nature.

Really. Our responsibility is to get to know the terrain. Why should someone else (the standardized rating and warning system) be responsible for instuction?

I have a standard. "If you need to ask if the terrain ahead is too difficult, It is for you!. Plan ahead.

Besides If the ratings were well standardized, how could the stashes be protected?


post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info. Your right in that Blue isn't much, but when you live in SW Ont. what is a guy to do? Have skied all those runs a Tremblant so now I have a good idea of what to expect.
Conditions at the time really do play a part in rating, as the time that I skied in Quebec it was after one of thier infamous ice storms.....Nasty.
Thanks to all of you other Bears, and the info that you provided on this topic [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #26 of 28
post #27 of 28
Thread Starter 
Fantastic!! Too bad that system wasn't in place. A trail map would be just like a crag book. Easy to tell if a run was within your personal limits.
post #28 of 28
One of the other advantages of lessons - you can ask the instructor which blue/red/black runs would be too difficult for you in the conditions as they are while you're there.

I'm sure everyone else is making the same point, but a blue that hasn't been snowed on for weeks and is covered in ice and full of tentative skiers falling over is much harder than an empty black after 6in of fresh snow. If you don't know the resort you won't know which of the greens/blues have snowmaking on and so which will get very icy.
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