Skiing or Snowboarding a Black Diamond for the First Time? Here’s What You Need to Know

Skiing or Snowboarding a Black Diamond for the First Time? Here’s What You Need to Know

There’s no better feeling for a skier or snowboarder than riding away from a steep and technical trail or line while knowing that you just crushed it.

Here at ASO Mammoth we want everyone to know exactly what we’re talking about, so if you have the desire to ski or snowboard a black diamond then we want to help you do it. We’ve listed everything we know about riding black diamonds and expert terrain below. Check it out before you take on your first black diamond, and if you want some new ski or snowboard gear before you do then stop by the ASO Mammoth shop for the best outdoor gear in Mammoth Lakes!

Speed is Your Friend for Turns

Your first black diamond can be extremely intimidating, but that doesn’t mean you should approach it by skiing or snowboarding slowly. Skis and snowboards are designed to make turns at speed on a slope, so the slower you go the harder it will be to control your board or skis and ride with any type of flow. 

It’s important that we point out that you should always stay in control while skiing or snowboarding, so when we say ride with speed we don’t mean ride as fast as possible. What we mean is that you should ride with enough speed to quickly engage your edges or turn if you need to avoid another skier or obstacle. If you’re riding a black diamond then you should be able to control your skis or board at speed, so don’t be afraid to do so even if the slope is steep!

Stop on the Side of the Trail, Not in the Middle

In general you should avoid stopping on ski trails since there are other skiers and snowboarders coming down who may hit you if they’ don’t see you.

That being said, sometimes it is necessary to stop on a trail. If you find yourself in that situation, then take the time to reach the side of the trail where you’re easily visible to those uphill and are far away from where they’re riding.

If you must stop in the middle of the slope because of an injury, then it’s important that you make yourself as visible to people uphill as possible. If you can stick your skis or snowboard upright into the snow to mark your location then other riders will know to avoid you and a ski patrol member should stop by soon to help you down.

Watch for Hardpack Snow

There’s nothing worse than skiing or snowboarding down a slope with confidence and then hitting a patch of hardpack snow or ice and losing your edge. Fortunately, with some awareness and experience you can avoid the worst areas of the slope.

Hardpack snow or ice often looks smoother than regular snow and can have a glare to it if the sun is out, so keep an eye out for it and be aware of conditions that may cause it. 

Stay Aware of Other Skiers and Snowboarders

Just like anywhere else on the mountain, you need to be aware of where other people are on the slope and what they’re doing. If someone is carving in front of you give them plenty of room so there is no chance of you colliding with them if they stop or make a sharp turn.

Also, always stay aware of people riding behind you. The downhill skier has the right-away, but if you’re going to make a big cut across the entire slope then it’s important to be aware of how many people are behind you.