A beautiful place to ski!

A beautiful mountain

Going skiing or snowboarding for the first time this season, or the first time ever? Here are some key words and phrases to get you chatting like a pro, or at least assist you in ease dropping on the lifts! These words are roughly ordered from things a beginner should know to more advanced/fun. Warning—some of these may be regionally associated with the Pacific Northwest.

  1. Bunny hill - the place for beginners to learn; the best way to learn is to take a lesson from a local instructor. Lots of little kids and shaky adults can be found here
  2. French fry and pizza - words used in lessons often to teach beginning  skiers how to go fast –skis parallel to each other (French fries) or slow down –skis in a wedge shape (pizza)
  3. Chairlift (or just lift) - the way to get to the top of the mountain, sit down and be transported by this elevated, revolving cable loop with seats on it
  4. Run - a named trail that you follow, signs often point you to the bottom of the hill
  5. Green Circle - easiest run, great for beginners
  6. Blue square - intermediate run, difficulty varies between mountains
  7. Black diamond - most difficult run (even harder is a double black diamond)
  8. Terrain Park – a designated area with pipes, jumps, and rails for tricks
  9. Corduroy - the ridges in the snow left from grooming (see Groomer)
  10. Groomer  -  when new snow on a run has been flattened and smoothed by a snow cat to facilitate easier skiing and snowboarding, the run is said to be “groomed”
  11. Cat track - a groomed, mid-slope trail, that usually assists in a traverse to a different part of the mountain
  12. Ski Patrol -  a mix between first responders to emergencies and security employed by the resort
  13. Lifties – Ski resort employees who run the chair lift
  14. Ski report or ski conditions report - websites and apps that give information on how much snow is expected, often regional
  15. Chicken heads or ice cookies or crud - undesirable conditions with chunks of ice imbedded in the snow (be careful)
  16. Bluebird day - sunny clear day
  17. Powder or POW or freshies - newly fallen snow
  18. Powder stash - secret spot with untouched powder
  19. Yard sale - when a skier takes a colossal fall and gear is flung everywhere  (giving the hill an appearance of a yard sale)
  20. Tree well - hole in the snow underneath a tree, possibly with misleading light snow coverage, very dangerous –avoid tree wells by giving trees a wide berth
  21. Jibber - adolescents who hang out in the terrain park all day and often have poor mountain etiquette
  22. Gaper - originally a term to mean a skier who pauses to take in the scenery, now just a dork, often identifiable by ski clothes from the 80s
  23. Avi control or avalanche control -  explosives used to create avalanches to mitigate the risk of unexpected ones
  24. Side country - check as this term varies between resorts, but typically, an area like the backcountry (ungroomed trails, potential hazards like rocks and trees) but with avalanche control
  25. Backcountry or off piste – ungroomed, unmarked, unpatrolled slopes with no avalanche control