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Washington Ski Touring Club
HomeTrip levels
Please notice that there are TWO


Groomed track levels (classic and skate)

Trips of this type occur at resorts or on trail systems that receive periodic snow grooming and avalanche control.   

Level (code)

Terrain

Gear

Skill Profile

Never Skied (GN)

Flat or slightly inclined freshly groomed tracks

Waxless classic skis, boots and bindings.

Average motor skills and balance; no ski experience necessary. Able to follow obvious marked trail and map.

Basic (GB)

Gently to moderately inclined freshly groomed tracks

Waxless classic skis, boots and bindings.

Average motor skills and balance and fitness; Some prior ski experience at “beginner” level. Able to ski up and down gentle to moderate inclines, controlling direction and speed using step turns and snowplow braking. Able to interpret trail map.

Intermediate (GI)

Moderately inclined trails groomed trails with some short steeper sections

Waxless classic skis, boots and bindings.

Can use diagonal stride to ski efficiently.

Able to ski in control down moderately steep inclines using snowplow or step turns; able to navigate safely in changing conditions. Able to relocate with map and compass if disoriented by trail system.

Advanced (GA)

Moderate to steep groomed trails, including trails that haven’t been groomed recently.

Waxless or waxable classic track skis, boots and bindings or skating gear.

Well developed diagonal stride and/or skate technique.  Fitness level to allow travel at a “jogging” pace.  Able to ski in control down steep inclines in variable snow conditions using snowplow, step turns, telemark or parallel turns. Able to ski up steep inclines using sidestep, kick turns and herringbone.


Nordic ski trips

Trips of this type occur on snow covered roads, hiking trails and ski trails than are not groomed for skiing.  The routes involved do not cross avalanche release or run out zones.  Skiers should carry The Ten Essentials  on these trips and be able to use map and compass to navigate.

Level`(code)

Typical Terrain

Gear

Skill Profile

Basic (NB)

Gently to moderately inclined roads  or wide ski trails.

Waxless touring skis, boots and bindings.

Average motor skills and balance and fitness; Some prior ski experience at “beginner” level. Able to ski up and down gentle to moderate inclines, controlling direction and speed using step turns, snowplow braking and snowplow turns.

Intermediate (NI) 

Moderately inclined roads, ski trails and wide hiking trails.

Sturdier waxless touring skis, boots and bindings.  Partial metal edges if firm conditions expected.

Can use diagonal stride to ski efficiently.  Can use side-step, herringbone and other techniques to climb steep sections.

Able to ski in control down moderately steep inclines using snowplow, parallel or telemark turns.

Advanced (NA)

Moderate to steep roads, ski trails or hiking trails.

Sturdier waxless or waxable touring skis, boots and bindings. Ski should have partial or full metal edges.  Climbing skins should be carried.

Well developed diagonal stride.  Good fitness level. Able to ski in control down steep inclines in variable snow conditions using a variety of techniques.  Avalanche awareness training.


Backcountry ski trips

Trips of this type may follow roads, hiking trails, ski trails or routes with no markings. The routes involved may indeed cross avalanche release or run out zones.  Avalanche awareness and companion rescue training and equipment is required for all backcountry trips..  Skiers must carry The Ten Essentials and be able to navigate off trail using map and compass.  Skiers should be prepared to survive an uncomfortable night out on day backcountry trips.

Level

Terrain

Gear

Skill Profile

Basic (BB)

Snowfields, forest with widely spaced trees or glades,  clear-cuts with slopes under 25 degrees.

Avalanche safety equipment. Telemark, Alpine touring or Splitboard.  Climbing skins.

Able to enjoy skiing terrain equivalent to “green” runs at a lift served ski resort under a variety of ungroomed snow conditions.   Able to get down “blue” runs at a ski resort without distress.

Intermediate (BI)

Snowfields, forest with widely spaced trees or glades,  clear-cuts with slopes under 30 degrees.

Avalanche safety equipment. Telemark, Alpine touring or Splitboard.  Climbing skins.

Able to enjoy skiing terrain equivalent to “blue” runs at a lift served ski resort under a variety of ungroomed snow conditions.   Able to get down “black” runs at a ski resort without distress.

Advanced (BA)

Snowfields, forest with tight trees, narrow chutes,  clear-cuts with slopes under 38 degrees.

Avalanche safety equipment. Telemark, Alpine touring or Splitboard.  Climbing skins. 

Able to enjoy skiing terrain equivalent to “black” runs at a lift served ski resort under a variety of ungroomed snow conditions   Able to get down “double-black” runs at a ski resort without distress.  Able to self-arrest after a fall using ski pole arrest method.

Expert (BE)

Slopes above 38 degrees of various sorts.

Avalanche safety equipment. Telemark, Alpine touring or Splitboard.  Climbing skins.  Ski crampons.  Self-arrest tools (whippet or ice axe)  Snow study kit

Enjoys skiing terrain equivalent to “double black” runs at a ski resort.  Able to ski effectively in all kinds of snow conditions.  Able to self-arrest using whippet or ice-axe.  Level-I Avalanche safety training.

Glacier (BIG, BAG, BEG)

Terrain as above, plus travel on glaciers

As for each of the above,  plus glacier safety gear:  boot crampons, ice axe, harness, prusiks, carabineers, rope, pickets or flukes

All of the above for each level, plus ski-oriented crevasse rescue training.