What Is a Black Diamond in Skiing?

black diamond slope

In skiing, black diamond refers to a high difficulty rating. Hence, slopes with the black diamond rating are hard to tackle and geared for expert skiers.

In the past, slopes with black diamond ratings were deemed the hardest. But that has changed somewhat in recent times since the double black diamond now counts as the toughest slope category.

However, do bear in mind that there is no universal rating system either in the US or across the globe. Hence, ski resorts are free to choose a categorization system of their own. Also, tracks are rated with respect to other tracks in the ski resort. This can lead to some confusion, though. Hence, if there are 2 tracks of similar gradient, width, and length, they could be rated differently.

There are multiple skiing difficulty levels. Besides the black diamond, the green circle counts as the easiest – hence trail with this rating are meant for beginners.

The blue square rating implies intermediate-level skiing difficulty.

In Europe, a different system is used. The same colors are used to describe trails. However, the same shapes are not always used. Hence, green happens to be the easiest, blue as intermediate as you would expect, while black is the hardest.

The toughest ski trails should be tackled only by those with plenty of experience and who are fully comfortable skiing at an intermediate and lower difficulty.

Another caveat to note is that rating systems are not consistent everywhere. So, in an unfamiliar place, how do you determine the actual difficulty level of the toughest tracks? You should begin with the easiest slopes and then move on to intermediate before finally taking on the toughest rated tracks. This will give you a better idea of what to expect at the hardest difficulty level. Such a gradual approach is much better than directly attempting the greatest difficulty.

Black diamond slopes often have the highest difficulty and are among the steepest. They also tend to be narrower compared to trails of lower difficulty rating. You will thus have to execute sharp turns more often to keep your position and speed under control. You will encounter various hazards along the way, like rocks, trees, and cliffs.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some resorts don’t groom black diamond trails.

Double black diamond tracks maybe even harder compared to black diamond tracks. Such slopes are frequently not maintained, and they are characterized by extreme steepness. Hence, only the most experienced and skilled skiers should take on these slopes. And even then, they should be careful. They should exercise caution while descending these slopes, for they are filled with hazards that can cause serious injuries.

In addition to black diamond slopes, there are other challenging tracks that daring skiers can look forward to. Adept skiers can also test their skiing prowess on the following slopes categories.


These are skiing slopes covered with plenty of trees. However, some trees are removed to have enough space for turning.

Deadfalls and underbush are often cleared as well. However, not all of these obstacles may be removed. For example, fallen logs are often a part of the glade landscape. Clearance of these obstacles needs to be done so that snow does not obscure hazards that could cause injuries.

Different resorts may maintain such terrain according to their unique style. Some have tight glades dotted with lots of obstacles, including hidden rocks. So watch out for these.

Terrain Park

The terrain park may be covered with features like half-pipes and double as well as single jumps. For instance, there may also be exposed metal frames that winter sports fans can slide along like pipes.

Such a space aims to provide skiing conditions conducive to freestyle skiing and boarding. You can thus practice various freestyle maneuvers like jumps, spins, and flips.

These slopes are often enclosed with a fence so that fast-moving skiers don’t move away from the slope at high speeds. As a result of this arrangement, boarders and skiers will be less likely to approach half-pipes and jumps at excessive velocities.

The scope and scale of features in a terrain park depend a lot on the ski resort where they are located. So at good ski resorts, you are more likely to find really big half-pipes and jumps if that is what you prefer.


These are very steep and narrow snow corridors. Chutes may be located between boulders or rock formations belonging to cliffs.

Couloirs are similar, except that they are bigger and longer than chutes. These skiing formations are characterized by high alpine conditions that are above the timberline. They are often avalanche paths.

Some areas are permanently covered with snow. This is where you can indulge in glacier skiing. Such permanent snowfields may be located on certain mountain faces or high-altitude regions. Their size may increase or decrease due to the melting or falling of snow.

Although skiing enthusiasts may want to try out these areas, they are hazardous and should therefore be approached with great caution. Unless you have plenty of experience, you should not head over to these places on your own.

If you are looking for a nice water-resistant skiing backpack, get your hands on Dakine Heli Skiing Backpack ASIN: B0888TMLRJ, which you can take on your skiing trips. You can take a survival kit and other essential items in this light backpack.

Our Final Thoughts

These are some of the most challenging skiing terrains that you can dare try out. However, before you do that, make sure you have sufficient skills and skiing practice.

About The Author

Scroll to Top