If you are a skier, you must have heard of double black diamond ski runs at least once. Double blacks are only for expert skiers because they are considered the most difficult trails.
Although these ski runs are the dream of many skiers, they come with their own risks and can be dangerous for people who haven’t got the skills to handle them.
This guide will explain what double black diamond ski runs are, how to ski double black diamonds, and some of the best double blacks in the world.
What Is A Double Black Diamond Ski Run?
Ski resorts in the United States have designated certain runs with different difficulty levels. There are four types of ski runs; green (easiest), blue (intermediate), red (difficult), and black (expert).
Read our full guide on ski slope colors here.
Double black diamond runs fall under the expert category and are known to be the most dangerous ski runs, more dangerous than black diamond runs.
Double black diamond runs, or double blacks, are usually very steep, icy, and full of bumps. They may also have narrow chutes, cliffs, or trees to navigate around. Double black diamonds are non-groomed due to the steepness, which creates an even more challenging downhill experience.
Therefore, you must be prepared for fluctuating snow conditions, unknown obstacles, and a fast-paced descent to succeed on a double black diamond run.
Additionally, the resort may require that you have certain qualifications or wear extra safety gear before skiing this type of trail.
These runs are typically reserved for the most skilled skiers and snowboarders who can comfortably navigate terrain that may be difficult or hazardous.
Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals of blue and black runs, you can begin to challenge yourself by tackling a double black diamond.
How Hard Is A Double Black Diamond Run?
Double black diamond runs are generally the most difficult trails available in a ski resort in the USA. They are steeper than any other trail available on the resort (steepness level may change depending on the resort and how they classify their runs).
Double blacks also have many other difficult features, such as moguls, large drops, and tight turns, requiring advanced skiing skills. Some resorts may even name certain trails as triple black diamonds due to their extreme difficulty.
Skiing on double black diamonds can be dangerous if you don’t have enough experience and skills. Even one mistake can result in serious injury or worse.
You must have a good eye to check on your surroundings within seconds and assess the risks involved while skiing down double blacks to minimize accidents.
So if you are a beginner or even an intermediate skier, it’s better to avoid double black diamond runs until you gain enough experience and become more confident.
Confidence plays a major role here because even with enough experience, you can’t ski on double blacks without having enough confidence in your skills.
How To Ski Double Black Diamonds
If you are thinking of taking on the challenge of a double black diamond slope, here are some tips on how to ski and to stay safe while skiing.
Assess Your Skiing Ability.
Before attempting a double black diamond run, you should assess your skiing ability and experience well.
If you are a novice, then these are definitely not the right trails for you. You must at least have experience skiing single black diamonds, even to try double blacks.
Practice On Easier Runs
Before attempting a double black diamond run, you should warm up and practice on easier runs. Practice your turns, control your speed, and focus on proper technique on black diamond runs to gain more confidence.
Consider taking lessons from a qualified ski instructor to improve your skills and learn more advanced techniques for skiing double black diamond runs.
Gradually work your way up to black diamond runs as your skills improve.
Choose The Right Equipment.
Make sure you have the appropriate equipment for skiing double black diamond runs.
The usual equipment such as skis, boots, helmets, goggles, and gloves do fine, but make sure they all fit well and have no damages.
Plus, consider investing in an avalanche beacon so that you can be found by others if an accident happens.
Evaluate The Conditions
Check the snow and weather conditions before skiing double-blacks for the first time, as snowy and icy conditions can make the run more difficult.
Check out our tips on how to ski on ice here.
While weather changes in the mountains are rather unpredictable, try choosing a sunny day for better safety, as you don’t need any last-minute surprises which make the run more difficult.
You should be confident when skiing double black diamond runs. Don’t let fear or doubt interfere with your technique.
Remember that you can take your time; knowing your limits is important for you. Before skiing down the mountain, visualize success and remember that you have the skills to do it.
Know Your Limit
It’s vital to know your limits when skiing double blacks. If the terrain is too challenging or intimidating, take some time to assess the situation.
Don’t be ashamed to turn back if you are not sure about the trail. Pay attention to your body and recognize when it’s time to take a break and end the day.
Focus can help you stay on track and ski better. Keep your head in the game and practice mindfulness while skiing double blacks.
Distractions like talking, listening to music, or checking your phone can all be dangerous while skiing. So, stay focused only on the trail and make sure that you don’t get distracted, as it may endanger you and others around you.
Be Aware Of Hazards.
Double blacks often have hazards like rocks, trees, or moguls. Since you chose to try the trail, you should be aware of these hazards and take time to plan your route accordingly.
Have Fun Skiing
Finally, remember to have fun skiing! Double black diamond runs can be thrilling and exhilarating.
Just make sure that you don’t go beyond your comfort level. Take it slow and enjoy the ride!
Best Double Black Diamond Ski Runs
If you don’t mind traveling around the world to hit the slopes, here are some great double black diamond ski runs to check out.
Corbet’s Couloir in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Corbet’s Couloir is a legendary double black diamond ski run located in Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming.
Nicknamed “The Scariest Ski Slope in America,” it’s known for its steep and narrow chute, which gives you goosebumps even by staring at the steep.
The run is considered one of the most challenging in the world, as it requires a free fall of 10 to 30 feet before hitting the slope of 60 degrees.
La Chavanette in Alpe d’Huez, France
La Chavanette is a double black diamond run located in Alpe d’Huez ski resort, France. This run is known for its technicality, as well as for its stunning views over the Oisans mountains.
It has a 1300 ft vertical drop, and its steepest part is a 50-degree pitch. Even the most experienced skier hesitates to ski on this slope due to its narrow chute and its abrupt fall.
The Cliff in Big White, British Columbia
The Cliff is a well-known double black diamond run located in the Big White Ski Resort in British Columbia, Canada.
As its name suggests, The Cliff runs alongside a rocky cliff, which provides spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains.
This run is a favorite among expert skiers and riders, as it offers a unique and thrilling experience.
How Steep Is A Double Black Diamond?
The steepness of a double black diamond run varies depending on the ski resort. They typically have an incline of 40% or more, with some runs even reaching 70%. The pitch of the terrain can also change, with steep sections followed by flat and/or rolling areas.
How Long To Ski Double Black Diamonds?
For most inexperienced skiers, it takes years to learn to ski a double black diamond. Experienced skiers, however, may be able to ski it in under an hour. How long it will take to ski double black diamonds will depend on your experience level, ability, and your confidence level.