Ski Trail Tips

Read these 11 Ski Trail Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Skiing tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How do I ski safely?

No Tucking in the Slow Zone

As trails converge, you will find slow skiing zones. These exist for everyone's safety, and are typically found near the bases of lifts. While you may be tempted to tuck through the slow zone for quicker lift access, remember your fellow skiers and snowboarders. Slow skiing zones are crowded zones, and crowds breed collisions. Obey the signs.

Trail map symbols -- what should I know?

Black Diamond

Mostly, the black diamond ski slopes of North America have the potential to humble, if not maim or decapitate, you. Test a ski resort's black diamonds only when you have your affairs in order and are willing to lose your left ski by the lift tower, your right ski by the woods, and your spleen by the advertisement for lip balm with sun screen.


Know Your Area's Rules

At the start of your first day skiing a new mountain, look out for that area's rules. Check the trail map and your lift ticket. One ski resort's rules are not too different from another's, but reading them can only help you ski safely.

How do I ski safely?

Right of Way

The person down the ski trail from you has the right of way. Especially if that person is not looking at you, the safest bet is not to ski near him or her. When overtaking a slower skier or snowboarder, leave as much room as reasonably possible and warn that person of your presence (for example say, “On your left”) before you pass.

What are the difficulty levels of ski slopes?

Blue Square

Are blue squares for squares? Who cares? Ski resorts build “intermediate” slopes to serve the majority of their patrons -- people who still have a lot to learn, or people who do not care to tease death too much. Ski blue trails when you are ready. (Typically not one's first day on skis.)

What are the difficulty levels of ski slopes?


Every ski resort or area designates its terrain differently from its competitors. A black diamond at one hill is a blue square at another. Be aware of this. Pay close attention to trail layout on any ski resort's trail map. And never just “point your skis and go” down any ski slope you have not skied before. Take a look ahead first.

What are the difficulty levels of ski slopes?

Green Circle

Know-it-all kids (the kind you are likely to come across on any weekend at a ski resort) with any ability think green circle -- or beginner -- ski slopes are for wimps. What if they are right? So? Be a wimp. Green slopes ski great (and even greater sans crowds on weekdays, or any day if you do the right thing and take lessons). You can challenge death on harder trails as you learn to ski better than the snotty kids. And take heart. People crash and die on beginner ski slopes, too.

How do I ski safely?


Every skier has lost control. That is why you fall. Losing control on skis is truly bad when done almost on purpose. If you strive to stay in control, you will ski better and have more fun at it. And so will the others trying to enjoy their own ski trips.

How do I ski safely?

Know Your Ability

Suppose you were to ski without regard for the types of trails you descend. Unless you are the expert of experts on skis, this is a bad idea. Know your ability. Use your trail map and senses to consider where you can and cannot ski on a given mountain. The last thing you want is to trap yourself in terrific moguls if you could not negotiate the tiniest.

How do I ski safely?

On Your Left!

Courtesy counts for many reasons. Ski considerate of your fellow skiers and snowboarders. Passing others on a ski slope is inevitable, so you must do it safely and considerately. Warn the other person that you are passing by exclaiming “On your left,” or “On your right!” Do this in remembrance that the slopes are for everyone.

What are the difficulty levels of ski slopes?

Black Diamond Times Two

What's the difference between a black diamond ski slope and one assigned even more diamonds? Possible death and certain death. Ski a black diamond trail and you may experience mild death or dismemberment by trail's end. Run a ski slope with a diamond or two extra and you should expect a messy death just a few feet from the start.

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Guru Spotlight
Jolyn Wells-Moran