Stupid question out of curiosity - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 01-16-2013   #1
 
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Stupid question out of curiosity

I constantly here skiers, and boarders talk about how they are solid Double Black Diamond Skiers, or boarders. Question is how do most in bound Double Blacks compare intensity wise to runs like the North Fork of the Payette. Is there as big of a variable in those as there is in kayaking. I consider myself a solid Class IV boater with Class V skills, but far from a solid Class V boater because the spectrum is to large. To be solid Class V I feel I would need to be able to run anything the pros are running which I am not able to. In boating we have creeking, waterfalls, big water, etc...... Is there that type of variable in skiing? How does it compare intensity wise. Just wondering.

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Old 01-16-2013   #2
 
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Ski areas are arbitrary and sandbaggers when it comes to classifying a run. It actually is most useful in comparing runs within a given ski area, not comparing tuns between areas. Some areas don't even use double black, while others have blue runs that most other areas would call black. And, now so much more is skied than used to be considered un-skiable that the ratings are even more worthless. Picture if all of a sudden 60 kayakers a day were running palouse falls, and that's how far skiing had come and changed. Yes kayaking has too for sure. I just don't thunk skiing classification is as rigorous, especially because a few managers are responsible for it, vs a debate among users.
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Old 01-16-2013   #3
 
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Sounds about as ridiculous as kayak ratings.
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Old 01-16-2013   #4
 
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I don't think most in bounds ski terrain could be comparable to big shit like the NF. Growing up at a ski resort I would compare a black or double black to something like gore where if your not ready you might get your ass beat but nothing super threatening and then a solid class V would be more like backcountry or big mountain where I wouldn't dare go unless I had the skill set to do so. Just my thoughts.
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Old 01-17-2013   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhowemt
It actually is most useful in comparing runs within a given ski area, not comparing tuns between areas.
Just like river classifications are somewhat comparable in a smaller geographic region--or on different stretches of a river--and less accurate across a region and not accurate at all across the nation.


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Originally Posted by Peelsauce View Post
I don't think most in bounds ski terrain could be comparable to big shit like the NF. Growing up at a ski resort I would compare a black or double black to something like gore where if your not ready you might get your ass beat but nothing super threatening and then a solid class V would be more like backcountry or big mountain where I wouldn't dare go unless I had the skill set to do so. Just my thoughts.
Well said.
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Old 01-17-2013   #6
 
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There sure aint a whole heck of a lot of in bounds stuff. I'd say the A-Z at BigSky has the risks of the lower five at moderate to low flows. Tree skiing the doudles does come with some risk too! But other than that, you'd need a heli to get in the goat range or something.

People huck, wicked gaps, cliffs, avalanche danges, cravas, unstable snow pack, and don't discount the dangers of the "Tree well" people have drowned in tree wells.
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Old 01-17-2013   #7
 
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BigSky A-Z.
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Old 01-17-2013   #8
 
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I don't think you can ever compare in bounds skiing to Class V. There is this artificial safety net at ski areas that takes out a lot of the real risk and commitment. Not to say you can't get hurt or worse in bounds - and obviously some places have very difficult in bounds skiing (whistler, jackson, etc) - but in my opinion the difference between the risks of the average double black run and even a class IV run like Bailey or Gore is huge.

The big and obvious difference is that help is always very close at a ski area, and assuming you don't trigger a very rare in bounds avalanche or fall in a tree well, you will probably be ok even if something goes wrong. (I think it's actually the blue and green runs during peak season that cause the most injuries during ski season because of skier collisions.)

Also the relative skill level needed, mind set, preparation, etc is much less for a typical "double-black" than class V whitewater. I, for example, would never think twice about skiing what most ski areas call a double black off the couch, but I never run class V after a long break from kayaking. Every new kayaking season I always take a couple of easier kayaking runs to get back into the feel of kayaking. (I don't run class V a lot anyway, but you get the point). I think, for me, this is because the risks of whitewater are much bigger and more likely than in bounds skiing.

Out of bounds skiing is more comparable to whitewater. But, as people mentioned, ski ratings are just ways for a particular ski area to communicate the relative difference of their own runs. People don't take the time to rate out out of bounds lines.
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Old 01-17-2013   #9
 
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There is a much greater "legal" emphasis on resort ratings in comparison to river ratings. That they're labeled by a corporate entity creates a situation where the liability factor, not necessarily the difficulty factor, drives the classification. This can be seen in contrast to Europe where they label only a very few (and usually groomed) pistes. Everything else is typically unlabeled and considered natural and at your own risk even if it's what we would consider inbounds.

You can think of most runs as being rated based on pitch, width, groom status, patrol status, and accessibility. Pitch and groom status seems to drive the bulk of the rating. Steeper but always groomed might be labeled a blue where as the run next to it that they never groom is a black. Double black is usually an attempt to suggest that the consequences and rescue difficulty are increased, not strictly because it's super hard. Double blacks are also a way to state that they are limiting their liability by stating that this run is for the mythical "expert."
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Old 01-17-2013   #10
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To me it's a little too apples and oranges.

I'm of the impression that kayaking requires fewer skills but a much higher level of accuracy and consistency for success. Also personally I find kayaking a much much larger head game. On the other hand skiing/snowboarding lets you get away with mistakes all the time, and not executing at the highest level maybe means you don't style the line, but survivability is much easier.

When you bring in the snow stability side of it, I think it gets weird. The consequences start coming into play like whitewater, but it's much less about skill as in kayaking, but knowledge, decision making processes and quite frankly luck if you push it on your assessments plays a much bigger role than in kayaking. Also in kayaking rescue ability is a major part of putting on, and many of us have been part of successful rescues from the mundane to the gripping. On the other hand snow slide rescues are rare and don't have a great track record for positive outcomes, although they do happen. Not to say lots of survivable slides don't happen, but rescues don't play a major role in survivability on the whole.

Feet to the fire though here's how I would stack it up:

River - Ski ratings

I : Cross country
II : Hilly cross-country
III : Green Circle
IV : Blue Square - Black Diamond
IV+ : Black - Double Black
V : Double Black with mandatory straight lines, airs or exposures surrounded by additional double black terrain
V+ : Beacon only inbounds super gnar, permanent closures, backcountry super gnar. (Big potentially back to back mandatorys or exposures).
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