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Trail Classification

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
This has probably been covered before...How are trails rated? Is it up to the individual resort to designate Blue, Green, Black? Is there a standard?
post #2 of 19
I don't think there is. Some blacks at Copper would be blue at Abasin. I personally don't think Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek is all that tough - but I think it's double black!

So, I think it varies area to area.
post #3 of 19
The National Ski Areas Association has a guide to go by. There is a wide range of pitch angle for each classification(which I have forgotten). I believe that a black is from 35 to 45 degrees. The ratings only go up to Black Diamond. There is no mention of what a double black is. So if the slope has a pitch greater than 45...wow-we must have a double diamond!!! The slope and trail conditions should be determined over a majority of the entire trail.

There is leeway due to trail conditions (moguls, glades).

The big fudge factor is when one ski area is fighting the publicity war. Example- 1 -a ski area went from 102 trails to 134 over the summer without cutting down one tree!!! 2- a different area changed their black to a double black because the local competitor had cut a new trail.

You will find that most ski areas divide their classifications into roughly thirds. : :
post #4 of 19
there may be a guide but it's ignored for all practical purposes. The color on the trail map is only for those who haven't taken the trail. Once on the trail you may not even be on the 'green' you tried to get as most trails are so poorly marked that a beginner can easily find themselves on a double diamond or fast chute with no way back. Pretty scary stuff for the older beginners that may need more lessons and stronger legs.
post #5 of 19
I've raced Downhill on Birds of Prey . . . it was tough skiing it that way! One of the most challenging DH & SG courses in the world. But for regular skiing its definately pretty moderate.
post #6 of 19
My understanding is that each ski area rates their slopes only as the ratings apply to their own hill. So, a black diamond or double diamond only means that this run is one of the hardest on that ski hill. There are black 'expert' runs here locally that probably wouldn't even get a green rating if the same run was, say, at A-Basin.
post #7 of 19
Tag is right. most trail maps contain a little section stating that the trail difficulty is relative only to other trails on that mountain. it is very often the case that a black diamond on one mountain is easier than a green circle on other mountains. trail ratings for different mountains should never be compared against each other.

it's also wise to note that because of changing conditions, certain trails may be marked a blue square, and ski like one when groomed... but with no grooming, bumps, natural snow, ice, etc. that blue square may be the toughest run on the mountain.

i don't know about the rest of you, but i've skiied more double diamonds that didn't warrant that classification than i care to specify. sunday river comes to mind in hyping up their trails like that, as most of sunday river's non-gladed double diamonds are not 'that' difficult in 'most normal' conditions (examples: white heat and shockwave if you stay away from the moguls, vortex, top gun, black hole).
post #8 of 19
They're all going for those magic marketing numbers of 25-50-25. Obviously you can't change the terrain of the mountain, so you have to make it fit. That is why there seems to be little consistency between mountains, or even between trails on a single area. Also why the rolling hills of the East seem to be rated consistently more conservative than the craggy western areas.
post #9 of 19
Legend has it that some areas mark trails so that can sell real estate at different parts of the mountain. There are 2 Green trails at Sunday River that are a beginers nightmare, Dreamaker and Lollapalooza.
post #10 of 19
All I know is that the vermont police should go to mad river and confiscate every can of green spray paint they have, the lying bastards!
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
OK so its your best guess which trail suits you best. Many times I have felt bad for beginners going down the "easist" way. A crowded slab of solid ice on a narrow cat track.
post #12 of 19
This is an old chestnut, and runs ought to be classified on standard criteria internationally, so that people don't get nasty surprises - it can be really scary for a one-week skier to be misled by a map, or trail signs that suggest an easier run than they are going to encounter.
There are plenty of codes in different lands concerning the classification of ski runs, gradients and so on. Sometimes they're written into local law, with specific percentage gradients for a specific colour coding.
Of course, there's a key contrast between Europe and America concerning 'red' runs. A red run in Europe is broadly similar to a US 'blue'. Green runs generally don't exist in Austria or Switzerland (blue is the easiest grade), though you find them in France.
And the legendary 'double black' is unique to the States in my experience!
post #13 of 19
I like what Squaw Valley does, by giving a general rating to each lift, and it's area, without naming every nook and cranny. This helps keep trophy hunters from scraping away the snow, not to mention hurting themselves. With the dificulty of any given run being totally condition dependant, it is very hard for people to know what they are getting themselves into. At Mammoth we use the double diamond for runs from merely difficult (Gravey Chute), to ones that are often very scary (Star Chute used to be on the trail map, and McConkey skied it twice to win the Gravity Games Big Mountain Comp). Although, it is funny how every person who comes into the shop, can ski "everything on the mountain". If only they knew. Ski a mountain, not a trail map.
post #14 of 19
This might be wrong but I was under the impression that trail markers were specific to each area on the mountain. For example; you get off a chair and you see a green, blue and a black. The green is the easiest way down from there, the black is the hardest and the blue is somewhere in the middle. From my experience there's no general rating system.
post #15 of 19
Mt. Baldy green...


BEGINNERS ONLY!!!!!!!!!!!!
post #16 of 19
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ryan:
Mt. Baldy green...


BEGINNERS ONLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a GREAT picture. Looking at it actually gave me that pre-skiing feeling in the pit of my stomach. Thanks for posting it. rick p
post #17 of 19
I am in full agreement with those of you that agree on the fact that there is no real standard that a person can trust when it comes to trail ratings. I tend to think that those ski areas who try hardest to relay an accurate indication of the difficulty of their trails will be more popular with the 'traveling' skiing public. For those people who are 'captive' skiers to the area it probably doesn't make too much difference, but there is another issue hidden here that may be VERY important to the longterm success of the ski industry as we know it. .... Shouldn't we all be concerned about the wannabe skiing public that is the group depending most on the accuracy of a good trail map? Can this industry survive while some ski areas turn potential skiers into nay-sayers because they feel they were wrongly treated at their first ski hill? Is there anything avid skiers can do to make sure everyone gets the chance to enjoy what all of us here on this site have become addicted to? ... I believe there is, and I sure hope some of the concerned citizens in the ski industry wake up to the kind of things that can be done across the board, that can help an industry which is continually on the brink of financial catastrophe. ---- Thanks for the wake-up question Kima!! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #18 of 19
most ski area (jeez, even MRG i think) have specific areas for beginning skiers. look at cannon mountain's expansion: most of their more recent work has been creating a beginner learning and fun area. this is the way to go and i think it is the trend to draw skiiers in... create seperate areas for beginners and make those areas fun, easy, and accessable. this is a GREAT thing for the ski areas, and for all skiers on the mountain, especially the beginners.

so if a ski area has a set beginner area, i would HOPE that the beginning skier would inquire about where a beginner should start, and hopefully take a lesson. also, it is becoming the norm (in new england at least) that each chair lift says what type of terrain it services. i don't feel bad at all for a beginner who takes his first turn off a lift that services only advanced terrain, they are learning as important a lesson as they would be had they been taken lessons on the bunny hill like i did when i first started.
post #19 of 19
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Lisamarie:
Legend has it that some areas mark trails so that can sell real estate at different parts of the mountain. There are 2 Green trails at Sunday River that are a beginers nightmare, Dreamaker and Lollapalooza.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

SO true- Dreamaker used to be a blue, until SUnday River decided they could make for money if it was a green.
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