Ski Jargon For Beginners

Beginners Guide to Ski Jargon

Piste: A ski run which is marked on the mountain usually by poles in the snow.

Piste map: Free map widely available that shows all the pistes and ski lifts in the area.

Piste basher: Machines used to flatten the pisted runs in the resort - looks like a big tractor.

Green run: Piste coloured green on the map. The easiest type of run.

Blue run: Slightly more difficult than the Green run.

Red run: Steeper than a blue run.

Black run: The steepest official pistes in each resort. For expert skiers only.

Grooming: The process by which the machine that goes up and down most pistes each night and flattens out the snow to give a smooth surface to ski or board on the next morning.

Moguls: The bumps in the snow created by skiers turning in the same place and pushing the snow into humps.

Off-piste: The areas of snow not marked as official pistes and where there is no grooming. In Europe off-piste slopes are not marked, protected from avalanches or patrolled. Not for the beginner!

Ski lifts: These take you up the slopes, which you then ski down. Chair lifts that you sit on with your skis or board still on your feet are the most common. You take skis or board off to ride up in cable-cars (some of which can hold up to around 150 people).

Gondolas: Small cable cars which you usually sit in.

Drag-lifts: You slide up the mountain with the help of a bar or circular disk you put behind your bum - these are the most difficult to maste.

Ski patrollers: The officials who are responsible for making the slopes safe from avalanches, marking hazards such as bare patches of ground and helping bring injured skiers down the mountain. They also 'sweep' the slopes at the end of the day to ensure no-one is left stranded up the mountain.

Blood wagon: Stretcher on skids which you are brought down on if you are unlucky enough to be too injured to make your own way down.

Black Diamond Run: In North America these are roughly equivalent to steeper red and easier black runs in Europe.