From never ever to black diamond skier in three days

Discussion in 'Ski School' started by James, Jun 6, 2019.

  1. Wilhelmson

    Wilhelmson Out on the slopes Skier

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    This makes sense. Sound like some fun runs. There are numerous articles and forums about the hardest ski trails, but what about the gnarliest blue runs in the world? That could keep us busy for a while. Blue blacks don't count. There must be some good ones in Europe. When the snow is slick Alta has some good ones if I recall correctly. Before they upgraded the snowmaking Cannon used to get wicked icy but that has changed for the better.
     
  2. Thread Starter
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    James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    In Europe Blue are the easiest, beside green for learing slopes that are pretty flat.
    Blue < Red < Black
    Jackson has double blue. I've seen someone slide for 80-100 yards on one of those. I don't think Alta has a double black.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
  3. crgildart

    crgildart Gravity Slave Skier

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    NC has a Blue/Black.. Gunther's Way down looker's right..
    [​IMG]
     
  4. fatbob

    fatbob Making fresh tracks Skier

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    Not really. Some countries don't even have greens so blue is pretty much the easiest non cattrack.
     
  5. Wilhelmson

    Wilhelmson Out on the slopes Skier

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    I was going to specify "intermediate" rather than blue but decided against it in the spirit of being an easy target. Boring thread drift anyways gnarliest blue/intermediate runs.
     


  6. Mendieta

    Mendieta Master of Snowplow Moderator

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    Exactly. These are, of course, people who are not dedicated skiers. Similarly, when someone says "I ski blacks" I know right off that they are much closer to a beginner than an expert. Not that I care. But most dedicated skiers (outside of dedicated racer types) just ski "terrain", not "runs". Sure, ski areas and will name a chute or a bowl, for reference. But the categorization a ski area will put to that particular place means little to most of those dedicated skiers.

    I am going out on a limb here to say that the well known fact that ski areas choose difficulty levels relative to their own mountain is simply problematic and flat out dangerous to the general public. I would like to see someone try the Palisades at Squaw because they are "single black", after skiing a tiny little "black" somewhere else. Right. Squaw only has green, blue and black.

    I would love for the PSIA (and other institutions in other countries) to provide uniform difficulty ranking to the different ski areas. Make it a certification. It only matters to people who are beginning, but it would keep slopes safer.
     
  7. Seldomski

    Seldomski Paralysis by analysis Skier

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    I think the European model makes more sense in this regard. The green terrain is truly gentle in slope. There is a big jump from green to anything else. Some ski areas simply do not have greens, or extremely limited green terrain. In my (very) limited European skiing experience, the line between blue and red vs. red and black is pretty blurry. There is a jump when going from blue to black. Blue - advanced beginner can get down it (may not be pretty). Red - intermediate can get down it (may not be pretty).

    Coming up with robust, comparable ratings for true beginner terrain makes sense to me. Above that (blues+), I think there are just too many factors to make a system that is purely objective and covers every case properly. Subjective factors come into play.

    True green would require a minimum width of trail + grade less than x%. Some resorts out west simply may not have any...or have very little.
     
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  8. Wilhelmson

    Wilhelmson Out on the slopes Skier

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    If Squaw doesn't have warning signs at the top of the trails that's their own problem. If it is as you describe it only a generic black diamond sign there wouldn't there be people breaking their neck on a daily basis?
     
  9. Mendieta

    Mendieta Master of Snowplow Moderator

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    It was a little bit of an illustration with an extreme, and playful, example. Palisades (and most of KT22's terrain) typically have "expert only" warning signs. Palisades are a hike, too.
     
  10. Paul Shifflet

    Paul Shifflet Booting up Pass Pulled Skier

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    Setting goals and achieving them is a great experience in life. Doing this is ubiquitous and healthy. No one is immune to this "type of thinking". What kind of goals can you set in skiing? For a beginner skier, a black diamond is intimidating, fantastic, scary, and seemingly impossible, yet they enviously see people rip down them no problem. It's human nature to say, "I want to do that." It's a clear separator between beginners and more advanced skiers. It's an obvious way to rank skiers and establish goals. After they get down that black diamond, what's the next goal? Double black. Then, it could be some of the toughest double blacks without falling. Then, many start over and try to do it all with a particular form. Most likely if you're not adept at setting goals you're no good, because it takes effort working to accomplish goals that drives someone to make necessary changes to push beyond a plateau.

    There is a Zen philosophy that attempts to change this kind of thinking, but I'm not a subscriber. One thing I've noticed is that Zen philosophers are often condescending of that kid that wants to reach the top of the mountain. It's almost as if Zen has become a contradiction as the attempts to strip away the motivations for setting goals, becomes in itself a goal that starts interfering with the natural and enjoyable process of accomplishment by oneself and those around them.

    So, yes of course it's obvious that getting down a black or double black diamond is not the peak accomplishment in skiing, but yet it should also be obvious that getting down a black diamond is a significant accomplishment for a beginner skier and thus would be a natural separation for skiers around that level. Someone recognizing that they are beyond the goal of getting down a black, and feeling the need to point that out in reference to this thread is the same kind of thinking that leads beginners to talk about what they ski. It's all based around ego, goals, and accomplishment. The only difference is the level of accomplishment. So, this video is a classic example of setting goals for those around a particular level in skiing.
     
  11. Thread Starter
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    James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    What makes the correlation with skill and trail rating is wording. Black diamonds used to be called "expert". So, make it down, you're at least not a beginner. I think we've been trying to get away from that.

    Yes, this would be good. The problem is, many areas wouldn't qualify much area for this. But if done, at least there would be incentive for places to have true beginner terrain. Now that area is generally used for condos.

    Maybe if they're blind without a guide. Even then, probably not as they'd sense it was dangerous.
    People always want to make trail designations absolute. This will never happen. The only area it makes sense in is learning trails. That designation would be good.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
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  12. fatbob

    fatbob Making fresh tracks Skier

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    1 Yay - finally a point at which my inability to know or care about run names might make me advanced skier. Better and cheaper than lessons. Sorry - I basically agree.

    2 Not dangerous if you believe in personal responsibility in a mountain environment. No one is going to ski the gnarly terrain at Squaw on the basis of what it is rated and for the people that do mistakingly ride up KT or even Sibo there is an easy way down. I've not often seen people vastly out of their depth at Squaw - maybe because there is a lot of see it before you ski it from the chairlift. I see quite a lot of people struggling in Europe on long notionally easy runs because they are overwhelmed by traffic and deteriorating surface conditions e.g bumps on pitches of the home run.


    3 Think it's been done to death - certainly has on snowheads for Yurp. Impossible to normalise run ratings because surface conditions, traffic, weather play at least as big a role as objective measures like gradient.
     
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  13. dbostedo

    dbostedo Asst. Gathermeister-- Jackson Hole 2020 Moderator

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    There was a long, good thread discussing standardized ratings - maybe back on Epic. I think they take away was that it's impossible - there are too many variables. In addition, you actually want skiers to have to understand trail difficulty and all its variations, since it can't be perfect. There are plenty of runs that I can ski when conditions are good but won't ski otherwise.

    Another example - what do you do with someplace like Whitetail in PA? They have 2 single blacks and a double black, all of which could be blue at a big mountain. (Except when the one run is really bumped up - in which case does it flip from blue to black?) Do you make the current black runs blue, and all the current blues into greens? (Obviously, that's problematic.) Or do you come up with some kind of 10 or 15 color system so you can grade everything? And does anyone want that complexity?

    One more color for true beginner slopes like in Europa is not a bad idea though.

    Agreed.
     
  14. Mendieta

    Mendieta Master of Snowplow Moderator

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    Sure, it can't be done perfectly. But it can be done reasonably well IMHO. The evaluation would be over "typical conditions" for the mountain. Though I agree with others above that it's mostly relevant for people who are getting introduced to the sport. :thumb:

    Actually:

    See? You have a sense of what's a reasonable absolute rating. So be it, maybe some places will have 2% green acreage, and 50% double black or whatever. And some place the other way around.

    Well my friend, my humble opinion is that it's *not* problematic. I would have loved to know what was an easy mountain when i started, not long ago.

    Anyways, I don't mean to restart a whole new thread on this. I think back to the OP, reasonably uniform ratings would probably help deal with some of the over-terrain craze, But it's not something that keeps me up at night. The season melting as we speak in the Tahoe Sierras? Yes, indeed :roflmao:
     
  15. François Pugh

    François Pugh Making fresh tracks Skier

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    Here's a solution for "true green" rating: it will be groomed and have a magic carpet lift. Anything too steep won't allow the carpet to bring you up; you'll backslide.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
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  16. dbostedo

    dbostedo Asst. Gathermeister-- Jackson Hole 2020 Moderator

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    Not really absolute - my assessment was still relative to big mountains I've skied out west, not any true absolute. And no, marking a mountain like Whitetail as almost all blue is not real useful. It's definitely useful to a lot of skiers to know that the "double black" run is somewhat harder than the "single black" run - even if neither is all that hard.

    It was definitely useful to me before when I was a much worse skier. A lot of undifferentiated blue runs would have been more difficult to navigate/understand. (Though I'm biased by having grown up skiing in the mid-A. Obviously in some places that "difficulty" such as it is, already exists - the variety of blue runs someplace like Vail or Snwomass probably encompasses the difficulty level of most of the blue and black runs in the mid-Atlantic.)

    I guess to my thinking, you don't want a whole lot of colors, because that's confusing and hard to communicate. But you also don't want such broad colors that you wind up with mountains of a single color, because that's not helpful. So you wind up with what we have - 3 colors that always have the same general meaning, but with the specifics determined locally.
     
  17. François Pugh

    François Pugh Making fresh tracks Skier

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    I'm good with a simple green, blue, black rating system relative to the local mountain. Folks can plainly see what they are skiing, can judge how much harder or easier a run they need to find, and need to take responsibility for what they get themselves into. Call the tune pay the piper.
    Skier in the video was never putting any one else in danger. Except for when she fell and had to be stopped by her "chaperon" she had her speed well under control.
    I'm fine with beginners shooting the black runs, so long as there is nobody in their spill zone. My motto is "You fall; we haul." :D
    As a beginner myself, I had previous experience ice skating, so hockey stop was not a problem. I skied blacks on day 1, straight down with skis parallel until I had to turn, snow-plough turn, straight down again, repeat as needed. If I felt I was going too fast, I could always pull the hockey stop.
     
  18. Thread Starter
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    James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    Yeah, not buying it. If the hardest trail is a black diamond, then you check it out. I don't think there are any rated trails with mandatory air. That could be dangerous.
    That's what language is for.

    While that seems reasonable, it can still be too steep. We pretty much have what you call for. It's too steep at the top, then there's the snow making pit you gave to negotiate. Failure to make some turn will have you going too fast and blowing up, or hitting the padding and getting stuck in a hole. When that happens it's very difficult to self extract.

    It would be pretty easy to come up with standards. No short steep pitches allowed even if average pitch is ok. No hazards. I'd actually argue for two levels. One for never evers, one for very easy green. After that, relativity rules.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  19. fatbob

    fatbob Making fresh tracks Skier

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    Re the goals thing. It's surely not just a matter of have goals and be a successful achieving person OR be totally zen. Many of us have enough goals and targets set for us in our working life ( or have been through a lot of study which is all about achievement) and the last thing we want in leisure is more goals.

    I'm happy enough setting my goal in skiing to be have fun, every run, day, trip, season. Now within that "fun" can vary and early season days might have a goal of say 20 laps so that I can work on ski fitness for more fun later in the year.
     
  20. Pequenita

    Pequenita Out on the slopes Skier

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    5DD5CE76-AC93-4203-99E9-56813085FF52.jpeg
     
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