ASI Skiing Ability Levels:
Lift-Served, Backcountry and Ski Mountaineering
We have found that rating systems designed for ski schools at ski resorts are not always appropriate in representing the skills and comfort level necessary for skiing in a remote, wilderness environment. Even though we instruct often at the lift-served ski area, we have recognized and defined skills within our rating system that help prepare skiers for backcountry, high alpine and glacier terrain.
In the following descriptions, alpine skiers can omit the telemark portion and snowboarders need to assess themselves accordingly.
Level I - Beginner Skier is working to develop balance, body position and speed control with a breaking wedge and wedge turns, can perform a kick turn on flat terrain. Mastery Goals: to ski with a solid wedge turn on easier green trails. Overall similar to PSIA Level 2-3.
Level II - Intermediate Skier can ski all green runs confidently with wedge-Christie and wedge-telemark turns and easy blue runs. Is familiar with traversing, side-slipping in a wider, open-stance and can perform a kick-turn on a moderate slope. Mastery Goals: to begin turns from a narrower wedge and make effective pole plants. Overall similar to PSIA Level 4-5.
Level III - Strong Intermediate Skier can ski with open-stance parallel (or telemark) turns on most blue terrain and advanced wedge-Christie or wedge-telemark turns with a pole plant on easier black runs, and in more difficult ungroomed snow conditions. A Level III backcountry skier should be able to negotiate a variety of terrain all day with traversing, side slipping and kick-turns if necessary. Mastery Goals: to ski in a comfortable, open-stance parallel or telemark turn on easier black terrain. Overall similar to PSIA Level 6-7.
Level IV - Advanced/Expert Skier can ski short and long radius dynamic parallel and telemark turns on easier black terrain, yet can ski steeper double black terrain with slower open-stance or hop turns. Is confident in light powder but can manage all snow conditions. Mastery Goals: To become proficient in all skiing at dynamic speeds, confident in all snow conditions and terrain including steep chutes (up to 50 degrees) with the Pedal-hop turn. Overall similar to PSIA Level 8-9.
Level V - Extreme can ski extreme. Completely comfortable and confident on long descents up to 50° with other potential challenges such as highly variable snow conditions, large bergschrunds (the large crevasse at the base of a steep couloir).