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SKI SLOPE RATINGS:  GREEN (circle)  BLUE (square)  BLACK (diamond)

by Bill Jones, Ski Instructor

Certified Professional Ski Instructor (Registration #110478), Level III
private ski lessons at Keystone, Breckenridge, other Vail Resorts

"Oh, no," said the skier to the instructor at the ski school meeting place, "I'm not here to take a lesson.  I brought my friend over for you to teach. I learned yesterday!"

Ski lessons involve not only teaching of maneuvers, but may also introduce equipment selection, snow types, and slope and terrain variations. For instance, terrain for alpine skiers at American ski areas is classified as
      "easiest" (coded on signs and maps in green and/or as a green circle),               
      "more difficult" (coded on signs and maps in blue and/or as a blue square),      
       "most difficult" (coded on signs and maps in black and/or as a black diamond)--and , , , (!).
There is also a double-black diamond จจ, even a triple-black diamond จจ, EX, and sometimes a yellow exclamation point (!), all self-explanatory. There may be a blue-black (a black diamond inside a blue square), denoting a slope between blue and black gradients. Classifications vary from ski area to ski area (they are relative only within a ski area, not among areas). Overseas areas use a slightly different system. And another series of definitions for rating terrain parks (where "pipes", rolls, jumps, rails, and the like are provided) is being developed, although the green/blue/black colors may be used for these, too. Snow conditions (icy, powdery, bumpy, etc.) and weather factors (sun/shade areas, snowing, hot causing slush, etc.) as well as your daily psyche and physique and how the slopes have been groomed by machines will alter slope difficulty at any given time, although the rating signs normally will not be changed. Therefore, the coding scheme is not absolute. Many ski areas post daily grooming reports, or check with other skiers or the ski patrol to be sure what a slope is like. Or advance your skill level to the point where the slope rating would rarely matter to you. In a ski lesson, an instructor will attempt to match your skill level to the correct slope for you taking into account current conditions.

Now see Skier Skill Levels 1-9.

This "Ski Slope Ratings" page last modified July 28, 2019. Did you come here from a link on another website? For latest version of this page, copy to your browser: Copyright © 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. William R Jones.