A-z list of terms commonly used on ski slopes.
-Alpenglow is a reddish glow seen near sunset or sunrise on the summits of mountains. Alpenglow is a natural phenomenon that occurs when the sun is located just barely below the horizon and that horizon is opposite of the Sun’s rays. It’s in that moment when that colorful red-like glow appears on the peaks of the mountains.
Apres (Apres ski)
-A French word meaning “after.” Usually termed Apres Ski, and means to to have drinks after skiing. To go partying and drinking with your friends after a day on the slopes.
-The warmth of sun in Winter. The warm feeling one gets when the sun shines during Winter despite the surrounding cold environment.
A.T. (ALpine touring)
-Alpine Touring, commonly shortened to “A.T.” is a method wherein a skier or snowboarder can ski across flat surfaces or uphill usually with the intent of accessing a downhill ski run. Alpine Touring is achieved by the skier or a snowboarder using a “split board” having bindings that the heel can be freed from the plank, enabling them to perform a cross-country type forward push motion. Traction is achieved through attaching a removable “skin” layering to the underside of the ski or board to make it less slippery and grab the snow. Once at a downhill area, the skin can be removed, the binding can be secured back onto the ski at the heel and normal downhill skiing can take place.
-A measure of courtesy from those who would like to ride the lift with a little more sense of comfort. It is proper etiquette when riding a chairlift with others that, after boarding the lift, the person who intends to lower the restraining bar should audibly call out “bar down” to notify all chairlift riders of his/her intention to drop the bar so that the riders may take warning and properly position themselves so as not to be hit in the head or otherwise be struck by the bar.
-When there is not a single cloud in the sky. A bluebird weather day is when the sky is completely blue and clear, making for maximum visibility and bright sunshine.
-Boillerplate refers to a the condition of snow where it has become extremely icy and firm and has become very difficult or impossible to ski or ride. Can be identified by a shiny and smooth surface.
Bomber / Bombing
-Similar to Hot Dogging, but without a crowd. A skier or snowboarding that is considered to be “bombing a run” means that they are skiing/riding very fast, on the edge of control using all of their skill. (Straight Lining)
-Bony is a term used for when snow coverage is thin and natural hazards such as tree stumps, rocks and saplings are showing through or just below the snow surface and create a danger for skiers and riders. Usually prevalent in early or late season.
Bra Tree / Bead Tree
-A bra tree is a designated tree that can be found at most ski areas that is next to a chairlift and is adorned with items such as bras, beads and sometimes snowboard boots or ski boots. The origins of the bra tree dates back to Aspen in the 1960’s and was believed to be started as a “panty tree” and was a sign of conquest of ski town females by males. However over the years the name and the meaning has changed, and it is now generally looked upon as a symbol of sacrifice by skiers and riders, who offer up their gear and garments to appease “Ullr” who is the Norse God of Winter. It is also seen as a symbol of freedom, expression, and celebration. Synonyms: Mardi-gras tree, panty tree, bra & bead tree.
-A high speed chairlift that has a hard plastic shield that can be lowered over the front of the chair, thus covering the chair riders from the elements outside such as wind or snow. Very common in Europe, but a luxury in the U.S.
-A bullwheel is a large wheel on which a rope turns, such as in a chairlift or other ropeway. On chairlifts the bullwheel is turned by motors usually at one end of the lift and has a breaking system when the lift needs to be stopped.
Bunny hill / Bunny Slope
-Nickname for the beginner area at a ski resort, usually serviced by one small chairlift, a magic carpet or sometimes rope tow. Known for only “Green Circle” low angle terrain.
-A term coined by snowboarders for a trick in which the rider leans their weight either back (tail press) or forward (nose press) to bring the other end of their board out of the snow. It is the first trick most boarders learn and usually the easiest, hence the name “Butter.” Many spinoff variations of the trick exist as well.
-Usually seen in Spring or on clear Winter days, when skiers and riders hang out in the parking lot for a break between laps to eat food and drink beer out of the back of their car. “Tailgating.”
CAT Skiing (Cat-skiing, snowcat skiing)
-Cat skiing is off-piste semi backcountry where terrain is accessed via ascent in a snowcat which is designed to carry passengers. Can be found in remote locations throughout the Western U.S. and Canada, as well as Europe and South America, and is also offered by a few ski areas and a pay by the ride bonus.
-A Cat Track is a narrow pathway usually cut between tree areas or on a ridge that is smoother over and usually groomed by the ski area’s snow-cat groomers (piste bashers). Cat Tracks are often used to connect different areas in a ski resort and are usually of a low gradient.
-A chairlift is a series of metal chairs strung together on a single wire rope that run in a circular motion through two “bullwheels” located at lift houses on each end of the line. Chairlifts are commonly used at ski areas to transport skiers/riders from a lower altitude to a higher one for the purposes of skiing/snowboarding. Chairlifts come in many sizes and lengths with varying weight and rider capacities.
-Arguably the best kind of snow to ski, super light and fluffy snow. Snow that is wispy and typically very dry. Can be found at most ski areas when conditions are just right, and can regularly be found in certain zones such as Steamboat, Colorado and many ski areas in Utah’s Wasatch Range.
-A being that can live and thrive in freezing conditions. A person with an overwhelming love for Winter and snow.
-A Chondola is a high speed chairlift that has gondola cars mixed in on the same rope line usually ever 4-5 chairs. Kind of a novelty and is primarily used in areas of a ski resort where there would be patrons who are not skiing or snowboarding, but want to get to a summit and back without riding a chair and being exposed to the elements. Can be found at resorts like Northstar, CA. Copper Mt. CO. and Cardrona, NZ.
-Referring to a feature of advanced terrain that takes the shape of a narrow gully with high walls on both sides. Usually is one way in, one way out.
Corduroy / COrds
-The result of a grooming machine (piste basher) that transforms in-bounds snow terrain into manicured trails with an appearance of vertically aligned stripes resembling the pattern of corduroy clothing.
-A type of snow usually found in Spring and Summer time which is achieved when daytime temperatures and sun soften snow, then overnight temperatures refreeze it again. Considered the best snow conditions for Spring skiing as corn snow is very pliable and soft and is generally not sticky.
-A cornice is an overhanging mass of hardened snow at the edge of a mountain precipice.
-A Fall Line is the route leading straight down any particular part of a slope. The most direct path from top to bottom. When resorts are heralded for having good fall line skiing, this means they have a selection fairly straightforward trails where vertical is easily obtained without winding around the resort.
-Fingers are natural mountain aspects found at some ski areas that are essentially a row of very narrow chutes. Considered one of the most challenging features to ski/ride as they have high rock walls on either side and usually no room to turn once inside, however most are typically short.
-To get first chair is a coveted achievement for any powderhound. When fresh snow falls at the ski area it is common for skiers and riders to line up at the base area lift before it opens to make sure they are one of the first ones to get up on the slopes and access the fresh snow.
Freestyle / freeskiing
-A skier or snowboarder that does not stick to the pisted areas, but prefers to ski/ride all of the available terrain offerings and uses natural features such as rocks, cliffs, etc. to achieve jumps or tricks. Someone that does not conform to normal ski habits.
-French Fry is a term used by ski instructors to describe the position of a person’s skis as being straight inline with each other, resembling two French Fries. This will make a skier go straight and pick up speed as long as they are not turning.
-Freshies is a slang term to describe freshly fallen snow. “Hey man, did you get some freshies today on the mountain?” Fresh snow, fresh powder.
-A Funicular is a Tram shaped train car on tracks that is used to transport people up steep grades. Can primarily be found at European ski resorts.
-A gaiter, sometimes called a toboggan is a piece of fabric shaped like a tube that is meant to be worn around the neck and has enough material that it can also be pulled up over the bottom half of the face to the nose. Used by skiers and snowboarders to trap heat in the upper body and cover one’s face on cold days.
-A gaper is a skier or snowboarder (usually new to the sport) that is completely clueless. Someone on the slopes that does not know how to wear their gear properly, does not know the mountain code or skier’s etiquette. Can be most easily identified by a “gapers gap” which is a large space between the top of their goggles and bottom of their helmet or beanie. Other notable traits are: Having their arms and poles at a 90deg angle trying to move over flat surfaces without using their legs in any way, having complete lack of awareness for their surroundings, difficulty boarding lifts.. etc. The rule of thumb is: If you don’t know what a gaper is, you probably are one.
Gape family Robinson
-Gape Family Robinson is a group of skiers (usually a family) that are new or very poor at skiing and do not know the basic proper ski etiquette and commonly get in the way of others. GFRs are known for bunching up on cat tracks and trailheads making it difficult for faster skiers/riders to get by, can be seen standing cluelessly at offramps of chairlifts, and are known to frequent areas of the ski resort that they have neither the skill or aptitude for such as terrain parks. *Parody on the old book/movie: Swiss Family Robinson.
-Are areas at ski resorts that are wooded, but have typically been thinned out enough so that tree skiing is possible.
Gnar (The Gnar)
-Gnar, short for gnarly is a term likely borrowed from the surfing community and refers to good snow conditions. Skiing or riding “the gnar” means you are experiencing excellent, enjoyable and challenging snow.
-A gondola is a ski lift that runs on a wire rope from top to bottom of a ski slope that instead of carrying chairs, carries enclosed cabins that typically carry between 6-10 people depending on the type.
-A groomer, or groomed trail is a slang term for open runs at a ski resort that are run over by snowcats (piste bashers) that are designed to churn up, smooth out and essentially rake the snow into a vertically aligned corduroy pattern that is conducive for easy and fast skiing and riding. A groomed trail is considered “on-piste.”
Hardpack / Hardpan
-Snow that has been compressed so that it is very thick and heavy. Not good for skiing as it is difficult or impossible to carve into due to its tough thickness. Can be caused by wind scalding or wind loading.
-Heli Skiing is a form of backcountry “off-piste” skiing and riding that is achieved by ascending slopes with the means of a helicopter that has specially designed luggage racks on its side to carry ski/snowboard gear. Heli-skiing is considered by many as the ultimate ski experience and due to the costs involved it is usually extremely expensive.
-Hero snow is a condition that is attained when fresh snow has fallen, usually for consecutive days and created surfaces that are ideal for skiing/riding without worry. Most objects such as branches or rocks are sufficiently covered with snow, no ice layer is present below the snow and the skiing/riding is effortless, making average skiers/riders look better than they are during normal conditions.
-A Hot Dog is a skier (or rider) that likes to show off around the slopes. This person can commonly be seen skiing below the lift line in an aggressive and flamboyant manner, or doing tricks in a public area so they will get attention. Sometimes has a crazy outfit on for extra attention.
-To Huck is to throw yourself off of a mountain feature, achieving air and usually performing some kind of grab or trick. “Man he really hucked that cliff!”
-A Jib or Jibbing is the act of jumping, riding, or sliding on top of objects. Snowboarders and park skiers often jib on boxes, rails or tree limbs for fun or to perform tricks.
-A kicker is a ramp or jump used by skiers or snowboarders to catch air. Larger ones are usually formed in terrain parks by resort staff, and snowboarders have been known to create their own by hand on obscure parts of the mountain to do tricks with their friends.
-A Knuckledragger (in mountain terms) is a slang term for a snowboarder. This term is often used by skiers in a derogatory way to describe dirt bag snowboarders, but has also been adopted and embraced by many in the snowboarding community as a badge of honor for it representing a true and authentic hardcore snowboarder. Origins: From snowboarders having their arms dangling while riding, resembling an ape.
-A liftie is a ski area employee who operates the chairlift from one of the lift stations. Short for Lift Operator.
-Looker’s Left is a term used by skiers/riders when referring to a direction while looking at the mountain. Looker’s Left is a person’s left when the are facing towards the slope that they are speaking about.
-Looker’s Right is a term used by skiers/riders when referring to a direction while looking at the mountain. Looker’s Right is a person’s right when the are facing towards the slope that they are speaking about.
-A magic carpet at a ski resort refers to a plastic or rubber coated belt that runs across the surface of a low angle slope to move skiers and riders from a lower altitude to a higher one. Primarily used in beginner ski zones for teaching children and newer skiers. Can also be found in tunnels (Snowbird) or to access lifts from parking areas (Remarkables).
Mashed Potatoes (Mashed Potatoe snow)
-Mashed Potatoes is a term used for snow (usually in Spring or Summer) that has been churned up and heavily skied so that their are chunks and small piles of it all over a previously groomed ski run. This condition occurs when sun and temperatures rise during the day and the snow becomes very pliable and is easily pushed around in to clumps by the patrons, resembling the food mashed potatoes.
-Moguls or mogul areas on ski slopes are open “off-piste” runs that tend to be moderately steep and have been skied excessively without being groomed causing large bumps or mounds to form. Moguls are seen as an endurance challenge by many skiers/riders, and some even train to ski them and do so competitively (for some reason).
Monoski / Monoskier
-A Monoskier is a skier that navigates downhill ski slopes using only one forward facing plank instead on two. Monoskiing is rather niche within the snow sports industry and it is uncommon to see someone practicing it. Advantages over regular skiing are that it’s easier on the knees and lessens risk of leg injury while making carving simpler. Some detractors to Monoskiing are only having one edge and lack of mobility on flat terrain.
-Nuking is a slang term used to describe the condition when it is snowing very hard and conditions are foreboding or apocalyptic, resembling nuclear Winter. Synonyms: Puking, Dumping.
-Shorthand for “Out of Bounds.” Referring to terrain that is outside of the established boundaries of a ski area.
-Off of the groomed terrain. Referring to terrain that is within the ski area that is not groomed. Off trail.
-A skier or snowboarder that frequents terrain park areas at a ski resort. Usually identifiable by their extremely baggy clothing, long hair, smell of marijuana, lack of ski poles (for the skiers), and often sound like surfer dudes. Never seen on the slopes before 10am. Also not known for their hygiene/grooming.
-Pillows or “Snow Pillows” are a phenomenon that occurs when ample snow has fallen on top of natural slope features such as rocks or fallen trees, turning it from a hazard into a pleasure as it can be skied or snowboarded through and used as a natural kicker on powder days. Resembling soft fluffy bedding pillows.
-A piste is a French word that means beaten path or worn trail. It is commonly used in skiing to refer to the resort trails that are frequented most, are inbounds and have usually been groomed. “On-piste” = skiing inbounds, or on trail. “Off-piste” = skiing outside of the normal trail system.
-Pizza Pie is the act of a skier angling the two tips of their skis towards each other creating a triangle shape in an effort to slow themselves down. Putting ski in the shape of a pizza slice. Term is used most by ski instructors or parents that are teaching new skiers.
Poaching / Poacher (Powder poacher)
-Poaching, or Powder Poaching is when a skier or rider ducks a rope to ski powder terrain that is closed or otherwise off limits.
-A poma lift is a surface tow that drags skiers up a slope via a retractable cord with a small disc on the end. The disc, sometimes on a pole as well as the cord is meant to be placed between the skier or rider’s legs to tow them up the slope.
Pond skim / slush cup
-A pond skim is an end of season tradition at many ski areas where a (usually artificial) pond is set up for daring skiers and riders to attempt to skim across from one side to the other on their skis or snowboard without falling down. Participants are usually encouraged to dress up in amusing costumes and the event is usually highly attended by the ski area regulars.
Powder / POW
-Powder, often shortened to POW is a term for fresh snow, usually more than a few inches.
-A Powder Poser is a skier (sometimes snowboarder) that arrives to a commercial ski resort wearing backcountry gear despite conditions at the ski area being completely impractical for this attire. Can be identified by wearing over sized powder skis or a powder board even though conditions do not call for it, especially if it has not snowed in quite some time, wearing an avalanche pack, telescopic ski poles and sometimes a go-pro. Wanting people at the ski area to think that they are hardcore backcountry skiers/riders, while riding chairlifts and skiing groomed pistes.
-A Powder Snow is a skier or snowboarder that is “too cool” to go to the ski area on days that there is not fresh snow. Skiers or riders that only ski/ride on powder days. Usually considered spoiled, entitled and self righteous. Someone that cannot find the joy in skiing or riding without there being fresh snow.
-A Quiver refers to a skier or snowboarder that has a large collection of skis or snowboards. Usually being defined by having many different types of skis or snowboards at ones disposal for use on different types of terrain and dependent on snow conditions.
-Rag Doll is a term used when a skier or snowboarder wrecks uncontrollably, usually resulting in unconsciousness so that their body is flailing limply with the appearance of a rag doll.
Randonee (Alpine Touring, A.T.)
-Randonee, also known as “Alpine Touring” is a method wherein a skier or snowboarder can ski across flat surfaces or uphill usually with the intent of accessing a downhill ski run. Randonee is achieved by the skier or a snowboarder using a “split board” having bindings that the heel can be freed from the plank, enabling them to perform a cross-country type forward push motion. Traction is achieved through attaching a removable “skin” layering to the underside of the ski or board to make it less slippery and grab the snow. Once at a downhill area, the skin can be removed, the binding can be secured back onto the ski at the heel and normal downhill skiing can take place.
Ride of shame
-The Ride of Shame is when a skier or rider that has taken a lift into terrain that they are uncomfortable or too scared to ski or ride back down, and must ride the chairlift back down to safety instead of skiing or riding. Someone who has chickened out upon seeing the terrain offerings at the top of a ski lift, and asked the liftie to ride the chairlift back down, which causes delays for other skiers riding the chair up. Can be seen riding the wrong way on a chairlift holding all of their gear, wont make eye contact, usually has fearful or shamed look.
-A term that means “to rip” or “to shred.” To schralp a ski run would be to ski or snowboard it aggressively and in a dominant fashion with skill and little to no fear.
-A shotski is a ski that has been modified to hold shot glasses for drinking liquor out of. An apres tradition at many ski area bars in which 3-5 friends agree to take shots at the same time and request the shotski from the bartender. Shots are placed into ski and the participants bring the ski to their mouths in unison and take shots at the same time from the ski.
-Shreddy is a state of mind when someone is ready to get back on the mountain, and is generally sick of Summertime and excessive heat. Ready to shred. Ready to go skiing or snowboarding.
-Side-country, often mistakenly referred to as Backcountry, is terrain that is accessible through a gated area at a ski resort. It is an area that is generally not regularly patrolled by ski patrol, is ungroomed and unmaintained and has significantly more risk that runs inside the normal confines of the ski resort. Any true backcountry skier or rider would tell you that true “backcountry” terrain can only be accessed via hiking or skinning, not via a chairlift.
-An impression made in the snow by a skier or snowboarder falling backwards or sitting down in the snow, leaving an impression and degrading the piste or powder.
-A ski bum is someone that lives to ski. A loose term that has had many iterations over the years, some are: (1) A low paid employee of a ski area that works at the resort strictly for the privilege of being able to ski and ride for free. (2) Someone that works only during the “off-season” and lives off their savings whilst not working during ski season, usually “bumming” off of others for lodging. (3) Someone, a skier or snowboarder that is fanatical about the sport and spends every minute skiing/riding during the season and deeply immerses themselves into the culture.
-Skier’s Left is a term used to describe the direction of left while a skier or rider is looking down the mountain, not up.
-Skier’s Right is a term used to describe the direction of right while a skier or rider is looking down the mountain, not up.
-The slopes is a colloquial term used by skiers and riders to describe the trails of a ski area. The proper definition is: A surface of which one end or side is at a higher level than another; a rising or falling surface.
-Usually referring to accommodations at a ski resort. Being ski-in/ski-out. Having lodging next to the ski slope where a ski lift or trail can be walked to or skied to from your overnight lodging.
-Snow Bunny is a term for an attractive woman who enjoys skiing or snowboarding.
-Nickname for a person that retreats to warmer climate during the Winter. A person that migrates to a more fair-weathered zone during the Winter months to avoid being in the cold and snow.
-A snowcat is a machine purpose built to drive on snowy surfaces. Primarily used at ski resorts to performed trail grooming and maintenance, they can also be affixed with passenger cabins and open flatbeds for hauling.
-When it’s snowing, but the sun can be seen through the clouds. A combination of snow and persistent sunshine.
Stash (snow stash)
-A stash is a hidden amount of fresh snow. Usually in a zone of the ski resort only known by locals that is known to still have fresh snow days after a storm. Often times in an area that is not easy to get to or otherwise out of the way and not frequently skied.
-Refers to steep terrain. Terrain that is typically for advanced or expert skiers/riders and is 40-55 degrees in it’s angle.
-A T-bar lift is a surface lift that pulls skiers and riders up the slopes via a retractable cord attached to a T-shaped metal bar with rubber coating. Can be used by one or two people at a time. Pulls skiers from bottom to top of a slope, at which point they must let go and move to the side to ski back down. A difficult lift for inexperienced snowboarders.
Telemark (Tele, Telemark skiing, Tele-skiing)
-Telemark is a type of skiing where only the toe of the ski boot is attached to the ski via a special binding. A method of free heal skiing causing the skier to take low dipping motions with their leading quad while making downhill turns. Similar to Alpine Touring in that the heal is free, and good for uphill and traversing, however the heal of the ski boot does not attach to the ski at any time.
-A Texas Suitcase is a method for carrying skis and poles in one hand like one would a suitcase. This is achieved by reversing the ski poles and placing the pole straps over the skis to bear their weight. While made light of, it is an extremely efficient way to carry skis & poles. Usually seen at ski areas in New Mexico, or Southern Colorado ski areas that are highly frequented by Texas tourists.
-A Tomahawk in skiing or snowboarding is referring to the motion of a tomahawk or hatchet when thrown. When a skier or snowboarder has a wreck on a steep slope, and topples end over end in a rotating motion with ski/board coming over their head again and again.
-Tracked out usually referring to a powder day, or the day after at a ski area, where most of the off-piste terrain is full of ski tracks, and most the fresh snow is pressed down.
-A trail sign is a sign that can be found at ski areas to mark directions for skiers and riders. Can typically be found at main trail intersections, the top of lifts, or at entrance points to specific trails.
-A Tram is a ski lift with two large capacity cable cars that alternate trips up/down a ski slope. Trams usually span very long and steep distances and are good for hauling large numbers of skiers/snowboarders uphill at one time.
-The definition of traversing while skiing or snowboarding, means to move across a flat snow surface or trail. Traversing is a much maligned activity by less experienced skiers, and most snowboarders as it takes a significant effort and is not as fun as downhill skiing. Traversing at ski areas is often necessary to reach different zones of the resort that are connected by trails, or to exit certain zones that have a rather flat runout. Traversing is usually achieved by skiers using a skating motion to propel themselves forward, sometime poling, and for snowboarders they must unfasten their back leg from the board and use a kicking motion like with skateboarding.
-In Norse Mythology, Ullr is the God of Winter. Savvy skiers and snowboarders often associate his name with guiding the conditions and will of Winter Storms, and when they are in need of a fresh powder it is him to who they must pray. The name Ullr can be seen around ski areas used in business names sometimes and his likeness (a bearded archer with a horned helmet) can occasionally be spotted.
-Vert refers to the amount of vertical feet that are present at a ski resort or on a specific ski run. Used by skiers and riders as an important statistic when researching new ski areas and also used as a source of pride when discussing end of season accomplishments. “How much Vert did you get this year?”
Wax (Ski wax) (waxing skis)
-Used by skiers and snowboarders to make the bottom of their skis or snowboard smooth, thus adding speed when on the slopes. Applied by using an iron to melt the wax, which is rubbed onto the skis/board and ironed in smoothly, usually after the wax dries, excess is scraped off, resulting in a thin coating.
-The White Room is a term used by skiers and snowboarders for the moment in time while skiing or riding in deep powder that all visibility is lost and all that can be seen is snow. Skiing or riding in powder so deep that it blows up into your face and all around you so that all you can see is white.
-A Wicket is an antiquated form of attaching an old sticker style of lift ticket to ones clothes. A Wicket is an “A-shaped” piece of metal roughly the thickness of a paperclip that is meant to be inserted into a zipper pull, then a sticker lift ticket is folded over the top of it for proof of purchase identification by lift operators.
-A Yard Sale is the term for a skier who has wrecked (usually at high speed) and lost much of their gear as a result. A skier seen after a wreck that has ejected from one or both skis and dropped ski poles and sometimes gloves, goggles or helmet.
Yellowjacket (Gaper GUARDIAN)
-A Yellowjacket is a ski area employee tasked with menial jobs such as acting as speed police and monitoring traffic on trail points known for high congestion. YJ’s have been known to yell at and sometimes chase “Hot Dog” skiers and snowboarders that are skiing/riding too fast through busy areas on the slopes. Like to post up behind “slow” signs.
-A yurt is a circular or octagonal structure usually composed of a wooden frame covered in canvas. Easy to construct and often very spartan on the inside. Yurts can be found at ski areas and are commonly used as snack bars and warming areas, and some ski slopes equip them with beds for overnight lodging.