Skiable area

Determining the skiable area

While the transport capacity of a ski area can be easily measured on the basis of lift data, the determination of the area is more complicated. Without a doubt, pistes that are groomed every night are particularly comfortable. But what about pistes that are only groomed episodically? Or ski routes that only get to see a snow groomer from time to time or never at all? How is the open terrain to be evaluated, where skiers also make turns and take pressure from the organized ski area while putting their lives at risk?

If you want to compare areas of ski resorts in the Alps and in North America, the different philosophy of defining skiable terrain makes things more difficult. In North America, you can use the entire terrain within the ski area boundaries (boundary area), because it is entirely protected from avalanches (or areas are only opened if this is the case). In the Alps this only applies to pistes and ski routes. Nevertheless, there is no restriction between Montblanc and Dachstein to ski in the so-called open ski terrain or next to it, as this is only done at one's own risk - which is why relatively few skiers do so.

By weighting the various area categories differently, however, you can make them comparable. Of course, the daily groomed piste is considered 100 percent. With decreasing grooming intensity the weight decreases, even if the fun for some people in the ungroomed terrain between the trees rather increases. For the majority of skiers, however, such areas are not relevant and therefore provide only limited relief for the classic pistes. The figure shows the area categories and weights used to determine the relevant skiable area.

The following table illustrates the determination of the skiable area for eight different ski areas. Zero hectares of episodically groomed pistes means that all pistes are groomed daily - which is the standard in the Alps. The ski routes widespread in Switzerland and Austria are treated in the same way as the ungroomed pistes of North American ski resorts. The latter are mostly difficult pistes that are offered as moguls. For the ski routes, the width will be 20 metres and for the ungroomed slopes, the actual area will be taken into account.

Categories d) and e) do not exist in European ski resorts. Here they belong to the unsecured, open ski terrain. Since this terrain is skied on anyway, it is taken into account with a weight of five percent. In North America, the off-piste areas within the ski area boundaries are also secured. Some of these are developed areas (category d), as the off-piste areas are marked in treeless terrain or those in forests are cleared of vegetation (so-called glades). The undeveloped terrain (category e) is left in its natural state but protected from avalanches. Access to this terrain is partly controlled by gates.

The weighted skiable area is only included in the evaluation of the skiing comfort. In the calculation of the Skimiles the categories belonging to the developed area are taken into account (at 100 per cent each), since the total boundary area of the ski area already includes the undeveloped and open terrain and therefore this are already taken into account when calculating the Skimiles.

Ski area

Total boundary area

a) Runs daily groomed

b) Runs
occasionally groomed

c) Ski routes

Other areas

Remaining area (extent ./. a-e

Weighted total skiable area in ha

Developed area (relevant for Skimiles), a-d at 100%

Runs not groomed

d) marked bowls & glades

e) not developed, but opened








Trois Vallées

10,410 ha

1,832 ha

0 ha

0 ha

0 ha

0 ha

8,578 ha

2,261 ha

1,832 ha


2,599 ha

434 ha

0 ha

44 ha

0 ha

0 ha

2,121 ha

575 ha

478 ha


5,584 ha

968 ha

0 ha

42 ha

0 ha

0 ha

4,574 ha

1,230 ha

1,010 ha


1,551 ha

476 ha

0 ha

0 ha

0 ha

0 ha

1,075 ha

530 ha

476 ha


3,003 ha

486 ha

74 ha

0 ha

895 ha

1,548 ha

0 ha

1,334 ha

1,455 ha

Aspen Snowmass

2,409 ha

243 ha

377 ha

0 ha

446 ha

306 ha

1,037 ha

977 ha

1,066 ha

Whistler Blackcomb

3,214 ha

526 ha

202 ha

161 ha

476 ha

0 ha

1,849 ha

1,262 ha

1,455 ha

Sun Peaks

1,282 ha

210 ha

282 ha

0 ha

134 ha

656 ha

0 ha

623 ha

626 ha