Double black diamond skiing
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Double black diamond skiing

A double black diamond ski run is considered to be the most difficult on-piste ski run available in ski resorts across the world. As difficulty levels of ski runs differ in countries around the world in terms of how they are graded, not all resorts or countries actually have double black diamond runs. Normally Europe’s most difficult ski runs are black runs.

In the skiing world, the different difficulties of ski runs are broadly divided up by colour to denote what level of skier you need to be in general to be able to ski down the run competently and safely. The easiest ski run available are the green runs, which are aimed at beginner skiers and snowboarders, and are very mellow to prevent you from picking up too much speed. After the green runs come the blue runs, which are a bit more difficult than green, but still relatively easy. There are normally a large number of blue runs in any resort, as this is probably the most common ski run there is, alongside red runs. Red ski runs are the next difficulty level of ski run, which is generally aimed at advanced skiers and may contain moguls (link to moguls skiing article) or just simply be quite steep. Finally at the top of the pile come the black runs, which are also known as black diamond runs, or double black diamond runs. These are steep, sometimes wind-swept ski runs that may contain moguls or may even be quite icy due to spending a lot of time during the day in the shade. These trails are reserved for expert and highly advanced skiers who have got plenty of weeks of skiing under their belts!

Double black diamond

As you might expect, double black diamond ski runs are even more difficult that black diamond runs. Double black diamond ski runs really are reserved for the handful of best skiers on the mountain! Some resorts don’t even have double black diamond runs because they are so difficult and therefore resorts just don’t have any ski slopes that difficult. Double black diamond ski runs are much more of an American thing than they are European. The most difficult ski runs in Europe are black diamonds, whereas in USA the grading system goes all the way up to triple black diamond! This certainly is not to say that the trails in Europe are any easier than they are in USA, its simply that the grading system is different, and the European ski resorts don’t grade trails as double black diamond or triple black diamond. I think it is fair to say that double and triple black diamond ski runs in USA are roughly equivalent to black runs in Europe, and similarly for each of the other runs, red ski runs in Europe are roughly equal to some blue trails in USA and so on...

Is there a triple black diamond in skiing?

Triple black diamond trails do exist in ski resorts! (who knows, there may be a quadruple black diamond trail at some point in the future as well) As with double black diamond ski runs, these only exist in the USA, and would be comparable to the most difficult black ski runs in Europe! Big Sky Resort in Montana, USA has introduced a triple black diamond ski run, describing it as having exposure to uncontrollable falls along a steep, continuous pitch, route complexity, and high consequence terrain. Sounds terrifying, right?! This really is only for the absolute expert skiers among us. I can't say I have ever skied a triple black diamond trail, so can't tell you exactly what it is like, but I can guarantee it is going to be a difficult ski, with varying terrain.

Can a beginner ski a black diamond?

Beginner skiers are very much advised against skiing down black diamonds. As a beginner you will be skiing using the snow plough, and to put it simply, black diamonds are too steep for the snow plough, so will probably fall or else just come to a complete freeze at the top. Black diamond trails are designed for highly experienced skiers who have been skiing for some time and have excellent technique. If as a beginner skier you do find yourself on a black diamond ski route, it will always be possible to slide down the mountain slowly, though make sure you do this at the edge of the slope, out of the way of other people so you don’t cause an accident (this isnt proper skiing, and will infuriate other skiers and snowboarders on the mountain for scraping all the fresh snow of the slope, and for taking up space). If you are a beginner skier, work your way up to trying a black diamond over time, by skiing on greens, blues & reds.

How long does it take to ski a black diamond?

There is a difference between SKIING down a black diamond and SLIDING down a black diamond on your skis. I don’t believe many people will be able to ski down a black diamond without many weeks of practise at skiing. Ultimately everyone's skiing or snowboarding ability is highly individual and everyone will pick it up at different speeds depending on ability and previous experience, but generally speaking it is dangerous to attempt a black ski run earlier than when you are ready and when you have the skills to do so. Not only for your own safety, but the safety of others on the slope.

Are black diamond runs groomed?

Not all black diamond ski runs get groomed regularly. In fact, not all ski runs get groomed regularly. Some trails will only be groomed a few times a season or only groomed after heavy snowfall, other ski runs will get groomed overnight every night. Black runs normally get groomed less often than other runs simply because they are skied on less often and therefore don’t require as regular grooming. As well as this, black runs are designed to be more difficult, so having ungroomed runs sometimes adds to how difficult a black diamond might be.