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Ski pistes

Ski pistes

A piste is the name assigned to a marked ski-run or path down a mountain for the purposes of skiing, snowboarding, or other mountain sports. In Europe is common to use this term; but in North America, a piste would more often be referred to as a trail, a slope, or a groomed run.

Signs & Terms On the Pistes

The colour coding of ski sign is different in Europe, US or other parts of the world. For this reason the International Trail Marking System was created.

So, the meaning of every symbol, are showed below:

Description Symbol
Green Circle - Easiest Runs
Blue Square - Intermediate Runs
Black Diamond - Difficult Runs
Double Black Diamond - Very difficult Runs

Different resorts usually use various Signage Systems to signify any possible danger. But the most common Sign is a yellow or orange signal, which contains exclamation marks, and they often have words signifying either the hazard or the action you must take. The most used danger signs are:
  • Danger - It means "General Danger", slow down and make sure to check why the sign is up.
  • Slow Down - When you look it you should Slow Down and look out.
  • Cliffs/Boulders/Crevasse - A possible hazard is coming up, in that moment, you have to slow down and look out.
  • Closed - Piste is closed, you should turn back.
It's convenient to be familiar with Trail Maps, Signs, and Terms before start to ski, for that very reason whether you are a Snowboarding beginner. Take time, before going out to ski studying how to read a trail map and you will not get lost while snowboarding. In the same way, know the meaning of signs and symbols so that you can avoid possible dangers or accidents in the slope.

Piste Maintenance

Generally, pistes are maintained by the operator of the ski resort, there skiers usually travel from one piste to another via a mechanical ski lift system.

To maintain the pistes usually the operator uses tracked vehicles, that are called "snowcats", "piste bashers", or "groomers", which compact the snow in order to improve the skiing conditions, remove moguls, and preserve the snow so the ski season can last longer. Frequently pistes are lined with artificial snow making machines so that snow can be created for skiing when the snowpack is low.