/ American to European grades

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rdelf - on 24 Feb 2013
Just been for a week of skiing in a little place in northern ontario, called blue mountain a few hours north of toronto. By the end of the week though, i was able to do a few double blacks (i'd got a more experienced friend to scout them out beforehand) while being comfortable on blacks and blue (aside from moguls) having built up from greens and blues earlier in the week. In the most part, they just seemed very steep, icy, and fairly narrow at some points with trees either side.
Anyone have any idea how canadian grades would translate to a run in the alps? aside from the obvious difference in length...
Mehmet Karatay - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to rdelf:

I'm fairly sure it's something along these lines:
green = green
blue = blue
black = red
double black = black

I'd be interested to see if others agree.

Mehmet
Postmanpat on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Mehmet Karatay:

Depends on the resort. Easy blacks in North America may be equivalent to red but many are black and there a double blacks that would not be included as marked pistes in Europe.
Minneconjou Sioux - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Mehmet Karatay:
> (In reply to rdelf)
>
> I'm fairly sure it's something along these lines:
> green = green
> blue = blue
> black = red
> double black = black
>
> I'd be interested to see if others agree.
>
> Mehmet

Pretty much how I'd look at it but as others have said it depends on the resort. I've just come back from Sunshine and Lake Louise where I would suggest LL grades are a little tougher than Sunshine grades.
Fultonius - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux: There's some double blacks in Squaw that have a 2m drop in to start... according to my flat mate last year...
Minneconjou Sioux - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Fultonius:

Yes, I think the double black is a little open ended. It is likely anything higher than black that is within the designated ski area and is skiable.
Orgsm on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Fultonius:
> (In reply to Minneconjou Sioux) There's some double blacks in Squaw that have a 2m drop in to start... according to my flat mate last year...

To be fair, a lot of European black mogul runs can have that kind of drop in.

In reply to Postmanpat:

> Depends on the resort.

Having not ever skied in central Europe, I've always thought that the "grades" seemed only internally consistent - i.e. black is the hardest run they have at that one resort, green the easiest. I've only piste skied in Finland in recent years, but at least that is how it works here. You can have very straightforward black runs and much more challenging ones.
Dogwatch - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
>
> [...]
>
> Having not ever skied in central Europe, I've always thought that the "grades" seemed only internally consistent - i.e. black is the hardest run they have at that one resort, green the easiest.

Resorts want to present themselves as suitable for the gamut of skiing ability, even if that's not really true. Runs back to valley level in Val d'Isere being a case in point.


Postmanpat on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Beat me to it!:
> (In reply to Fultonius)
> [...]
>
> To be fair, a lot of European black mogul runs can have that kind of drop in.

Really? I've seen quite a lot of double blacks in Canada with a leap in entry (depending on conditions) but don't think I can recall any on piste in Europe. What are you thinking of?

majortom - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to TobyA: I've heard much the same as Toby, that the grading of runs only applies within that resort. So greens are the easiest and (in Europe) blacks are the hardest. However, depending on the resort, a red run in one might be harder than a black run in another resort. Generally they give a rough guide, but it shouldn't be assumed that because you can ski a black run in one resort, you could ski any black run in any resort.

In reply to majortom: My boys (7 and 8) had a lesson with an instructor for the first time last week at a small resort here in Finland (up until now instruction during their first few days of downhill skiing has mainly been me yelling "snow plough! SNOW PLOUGH!" at them :). And they went down the resorts 'black run' happily after that. But considering the drop at that resort is 150 metres, and the longest run is only 800 mtrs - I suspect that if they rocked up at the top of a black run in Chamonix or similar they'd not find the same sort of thing!
rdelf - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to TobyA: I think that's kind of the same with me, the double blacks i was had the steepest section lasting no more than about 100-150 metres, so very much doubt i can rock up to the top of a black run in chamonix and make it down in one piece...
fertilious - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to rdelf: Blue Mountain is in southern Ontario, most runs in Ontario are graded soft. Single diamond runs in Ontario are blue runs at hills such as Whiteface in New York State. Cheers.
Martin W on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Dogwatch:

> Resorts want to present themselves as suitable for the gamut of skiing ability, even if that's not really true. Runs back to valley level in Val d'Isere being a case in point.

Out of interest, which runs back to the resort in Val do you think are under-graded?
Dogwatch - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Martin W:
> (In reply to Dogwatch)
>
> [...]
>
> Out of interest, which runs back to the resort in Val do you think are under-graded?

The green Verte to La Daille, which isn't much different to the red Triffolet, and the blue Santons to the Solaise area, which is narrow, congested and no place for the less than confident.

Dogwatch - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Dogwatch: I could possibly add the red Matisse, which has a sustained steep and narrow section on which I've seen family groups who have bitten off a lot more than they could chew.
summo on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to rdelf: i've skied at a few places in Scandinavia where 1 place will 'feel' one grade harder than a place 30 or 40km away. I put it down to the resorts marketing, if all the runs bare 1 or 2 are red, but mainly blacks of 1 form or another, then they'll loose some of the begineer crownd, but if that place isn't that big either, then experience skiers won't stay there, they'll just day visit etc. So there can be local motives to making a place look like it is please with long winding green and blues, and pretty the reds don't have drop offs that would easily be blacks at a neighbouring place.

Then it could just be me having an off day. Anyone skied at Kvitfjell in Norway, I've always though that was mean for the grade, a local once said it was mountain grades! Which I liked as i viewed it like comparing a safe roadside crag to a more committing mountain environment!
mullermn - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to rdelf:

I've just come back from Whistler and the double blacks there were basically the same as the blacks just with a more demanding entry.. Either a drop in or a narrow couloir etc. in general the runs there were not really that hard, in particular it was tough to find any sustained high gradient. Lots of bumpy stuff though ;)

In my experience (which only includes two North American trips) the European runs tend to be pisted including the blacks, while the North American runs don't seem to be pisted above blue. That tends to lead to the American runs being heavily mogulled where the European runs might be more of a steep flat piste with the 'blackness' being due to either sustained gradient, icyness or general poor condition or narrow sections with hazards etc.

The two exceptions I can think of to that are the tunnel in Alp d'Huez and the Wall in Avoriaz(?), which were both unpisted, but I think these are considered to be pretty top end difficulty for pisted runs in Europe.

Brackenridge in the US has an additional grade which is marked as double black 'extreme terrain' on the maps.. Those generally seem to have a cliff drop in them and are best enjoyed from a chairlift in my opinion!
Postmanpat on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to mullermn:
> (In reply to rdelf)
>
> I've just come back from Whistler and the double blacks there were basically the same as the blacks just with a more demanding entry.. Either a drop in or a narrow couloir etc. in general the runs there were not really that hard, in particular it was tough to find any sustained high gradient. Lots of bumpy stuff though ;)
>
In general I'd agree but nevertheless, you won't find many of those entries on piste in Europe.
I reckon the couloir extreme and blowhole are steeper than any on piste run I've seen in Europe and as for exhilarator, eek! (never actually did this-the cornice was a bit daunting)-is that still a marked run?)
Dogwatch - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to mullermn:
>
> The two exceptions I can think of to that are the tunnel in Alp d'Huez and the Wall in Avoriaz(?), which were both unpisted

There are a number of blacks in Espace Killy (Val d'Isere/Tignes) which are designated "naturide" (i.e. non-bashed).

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