Originally Posted by billyymc
Funny Bob. But I think underlying your comment is the fact that the system for rating terrain is pretty sadly lacking. I'm sure it's probably been hotly debated here before, but I think that there needs to be an overhaul of the rating system. At the very least provide something that has more than 3 levels of definition. Some standardization acrossed the industry would be nice as well, so when a person travels from their home moutain to some other place they have some idea what they are getting into on a given run. The whole "these ratings are specific to this mountain" deal was quaint back in the day when 1) people didn't travel all that much, and 2) there was no popular means for individuals to communicate quickly and easily on a national and global scale.
I'd like to see something more like the whitewater community uses. A 1 - 5 (or 6) scale. Of course, that has it's limitations as well, and there have been proposed changes to try to mitigate those issues. Corran Addison proposed a scale with three factors that incorporated the difficulty of the run, the consequences of F'ing up, and the distance/difficulty in accessing emergency assistance. For example, you could have two differnet class IV runs based on difficulty, but one could be strewn with undercuts and seives and be a constant class IV all the way down and in a remote wilderness canyon. The other could be pool and drop class IV, along a roadside with good access, and have few undercuts. Class IV doesn't describe the runs adequately for a person to really know what they are getting into.
And the ski run classification is worse than the basic WW classification.
The other thing that happens in the WW community is that there have been comparisons listings put together by various boating groups -- either clubs, or larger associations -- that compare popular runs to one another. These give a boater a more finite understanding of where a particular run falls in relation to something else they may already have done.
Bob - the fact that there are places in the east the have double, and a couple that even go as far as having triple diamonds - seems funny at first. But it eliminates comments like "that's an easy black" - "that's a moderately hard black". A better system would minimize the need to subjectively qualify black runs like that.
Are all black runs at JH created equal?
I really did mean it literally. There are no double diamonds at Jackson Hole. All our runs are squares. No diamonds (unless you look at them sideways).
And no, not all JH black runs are created equal. The hardest ones are pretty much the steepest, but the most difficult ones also usually involve some terrain features like semi-mandatory air (Corbet's) or rock-lined chokepoints like the Alta Chutes or Tower 3 Chute, etc. We used to have a category that had YELLOW EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!
, which were supposed to mean use extra caution, but they did away with that classification. Now we have the double-blacks and even those have quite a bit of variability when it comes to degree of difficulty.
I agree with you that it would be nice is there were somehow a way to compare runs across resorts. I don't know much about whitewater ratings, but I assume it's similar in concept to rock climbing ratings. It's very helpful in rock climbing that a 5.10 climb in New England can be *relatively* similar to a 5.10 in California.
The problem in skiing, though, is that there's just so much variability of snow conditions, not only at a given resort but also between resorts. I've skied at Snowbird quite a bit, for example, and I know that a good share of the more difficult runs at Snowbird are steeper - by several degrees - than most of the more difficult runs at Jackson Hole. But because Snowbird typically has better snow conditions (softer, deeper, more sheltered from the sun), I'm not sure those runs are any MORE difficult on a daily basis as they're often a little easier to ski due to the great snow.
I think it would be great to be able to rate across ski resorts, but it just seems like there are so many variables - once you get into more difficult runs - that it's almost impossible. I think it could be pretty easy to do for groomed runs, however, if you knew the degrees of pitch. I think it's relatively easy to compare a 24-degree groomed run at Jackson Hole (whatever its rating within that resort) to a 24-degree groomed run at Stowe.