Blog Mountain Jargon

As much time as we here in the Ski department have spent on the mountains and in ski resorts, we were all first timers visiting the mountain once.

With all the amazing new experiences on offer for your first trip up the mountain, it’s definitely a lot to take in. You might find yourself packing and re packing your thermals and ski socks and learning local language phrases in readiness for your trip. However, one thing that is often overlooked is knowing the technical jargon and maybe even some of the mountain slang you’re almost certain to hear around resort and up the hill!

Here, we’ve compiled a mini dictionary of words and phrases that we know from experience will come in handy for your first or fifteenth ski trip – with a few silly ones thrown in for good measure!

So, here we go:

  • Après ski – Activities when you’re finished skiing for the day, there’s plenty of options but it could be bowling, swimming, a disco or ice skating.
  • Arial tramway/ Télépherique –  A type of lift. Sometimes able to carry up to 100 people!
  • Avalanche – When the top layer of snow comes loose causing a snow slide.
  • Base Layers – The bottom layers of clothing you wear up the mountain to keep you warm – think thermal leggings and long sleeved tops!
  • Bindings (Board) – The part on your board that you strap your boots into, can be loosened or tightened by you at any time. Board bindings don’t auto release.
  • Bindings (Skis) – The part attached to your skis that you clip your ski boots into. Have an auto release (din) setting.
  • Black run – The most difficult type of run, usually very steep with difficult terrain, experts only!
  • Blood Wagon – The mountain ambulance – a Skidoo to take you back down to resort if you’re injured.
  • Bluebird – The day after an epic snowfall when the sun is shining and there isn’t a cloud in the sky – perfection!
  • Blue run – An intermediate run, not too steep. By the end of a week, everyone should be able to manage a blue run!
  • Box – Something you’d find in the park, a fun feature built to slide on and do tricks.
  • Brain bucket – Slang word for helmet!
  • Bubble lift – Another word for gondola.
  • Buff – A face covering for the bottom half of your face, stops wind chill and sunburn and keeps your face warm on the chairlifts.
  • Button lift – A drag lift with a circle type seat that you put between your legs and let it pull you to get to the top of a slope.
  • Carving – Shifting straight from one edge to the other to make your turns.
  • Crevasse – Hidden hole or crack in the landscape, something only found off piste!
  • Dins – These are the settings on ski bindings which determine how easily your skis will come off if you fall. The dins are decided by your height, weight and ski ability.
  • Double black diamond – Only used in American and Canadian resorts, the most difficult trail, similar to Europe’s black runs.
  • Double eject – When the dins on your ski bindings release during a fall causing both your skis to pop off at the same time.
  • Drag Lift – Sometimes a button lift, sometimes a moving rope which you have to hold to pull you up the slope – usually found on nursery slopes.
  • Dump – Slang term for a large snowfall – “We had a massive dump over the weekend!”
  • Gondola – Large cable car type lift where you carry your skis or board.
  • Green run – The easiest type of run with a very gentle slope.
  • Half-pipe – Found in the park,  looks as the name suggests and is used for freestyling.
  • Kicker – Another park feature, a jump designed to ‘kick’ you in to the air.

TOP TIP: Make sure you leave your gloves out to dry at night… You’ll regret not doing so when your soggy gloves are making your hands cold the next day!

  • Magic Carpet- A type of lift, a moving floor that goes uphill. Found by the nursery slopes.
  • Mashed potato – Thick and heavy snow that’s difficult to ski through – Imagine skiing through mash!
  • Mogul – Large mounds of snow that mean you have to use tight turns to navigate around them.
  • Nursery slope – Very gentle slopes for first time skiers, this is mostly where you’ll find a type of drag lift or magic carpet.
  • Off-Piste – Skiing or boarding out of the boundaries of the marked piste, generally where the best powder is but can be very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t have the right equipment!
  • Park – An area for freestyle, sometimes called a terrain park. This is where you’d find, boxes, rails, kickers and pipes!
  • Piste Basher – A large machine used to groom the pistes.
  • Pow pow – The powdery snow you get after a big dump.
  • Rail – As the name suggests – used for tricks and found in the park.
  • Red run – An intermediate to advanced run, fairly steep, with varied terrain.
  • Sallopetes – The technical name for your ski/board trousers.
  • Ski ties – Used to keep your skis together making them easier to carry.
  • Slalom – An Olympic event! A downhill skiing course with tightly spaced ‘gates’ that must be passed between with short quick turns.
  • Snood – Basically a tubular scarf.
  • Snow cannon – A machine that makes atificial snow, often active on lower slopes to maintain snow cover.
  • Snow plough/pizza slice – A technique you’ll learn on your first ski lesson, the positioning of your skis in a ‘V’ shape to slow down and stop.
  • Stack it – A slang term for falling over – “I stacked it coming down that red run earlier”
  • T bar – Another type of drag lift for 2 people It has a ‘T’ shaped bar at the end which goes behind your legs to pull you up the hill.
  • Waxing and edging – Your skis or board need the have sharp edges to dig into the snow for turns and waxing the base makes for a smoother ride. Don’t worry, this will have already been done if you’re renting your equpiment!
  • White out – In heavy snow/fog where you can’t see anything but white. Very disorientating! Try keeping to the edge of the piste and follow the markers so you don’t get lost!
  • Wipe out – An epic fall! Usually goes hand in hand with a double eject!

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