Skiing Red Runs for the FIRST Time? READ THIS

by Simon Naylor | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles
You've only ever skied on green and blue slopes and you're interested in moving up a gradient, but before you do, you want to know what to expect? wise move! So what is a red run? Red slopes are considered advanced intermediate runs and have a steep gradient for confident skiers. A red ski run is for good skiers that like a challenge. Red pistes are found everywhere except North America – the equivalent there would be a steep section on a blue run or a shallow section on a black diamond run.
Where? Sign
🇪🇺Europe 🇳🇿New Zealand 🇯🇵Japan 🌍Rest of World 🔴Red circle
🇨🇦🇺🇸North America
similar to hard blues 🔵or easier blacks ◈
*The word Slope/Trail/Run/Piste is used interchangeably and means the same thing! 

Who are red runs for?

Red runs are for skies who can link their parallel turns quickly and who are able to control their speed on steep uneven terrain. Red runs are for skiers who are very comfortable skiing on blue runs. Skiers who can turn right and left with ease and at speed.

Who are red runs not for?

Red runs are not for new skiers learning to parallel ski, or for skiers that can’t hockey stop on both sides. Skiers still skiing with a wedged shape during turns or who struggle keeping their skis parallel should not try to ski red runs. Skiers who find blue runs challenging should not ski any red runs.

How steep are red runs?

Red runs are steep, they typically have a gradient range of 30-45% and they are steeper than blue runs and considerably steeper than green runs.
Red Slope Average Angle
📐 Degrees ° Percent %
🇪🇺Europe / World 17-24 30-45
The beginning of red runs can be deceptive and they often start on shallow sections and then turn into much steeper sections later on. A trail will be rated by its most difficult part, even if the rest of the trail is easy. (source) This can cause trouble for new skiers who accidentally stray onto red runs thinking they can handle it or for those skiers who miss the red signs and presume it's a blue slope. ⚠️Always know what color trail your skiing on.

How to ski red runs?

To ski red runs you should be comfortable parallel skiing. Red runs have steep sections so you must continually control your speed with more frequent and more aggressive turns. On steeper terrain, you pick up speed much faster and you must make a range of different turns to match the width of the piste. Some sections may be very narrow and require very short sharp turns, while other sections may be very wide be littered with moguls (mounds of snow whipped into piles by skiers throughout the day).

How to ski on steep gradients?

Skiing on steeper gradients requires you to have greater control of your body movements and edge control. You'll generally want to make faster turns, so you'll need to put more pressure into the inside edge of your downhill ski and lean your hips further into the turn. parallel body position ski Learn more here: Skiing on steep gradients

How long does it take to learn to ski red runs?

It takes as long as it takes for you to be able to parallel ski comfortably. Sure you could ski a red run in your first few days of skiing, but unless you're an adrenaline junkie with an injury wish then I wouldn't recommend it. Get comfortable on the steep parts of blue runs before you try your first red run. Learning to ski is learning to push boundaries and test yourself but at the same time, there is no need to take unnecessary risks with your body. Don't feel any pressure that YOU SHOULD be skiing red runs by now, because every skier is different. The truth is, too many skiers jump up to a red or black run because of peer pressure and end up injured.

Are red runs dangerous?

Red runs are dangerous for new or inexperienced skiers. If you're a good skier who can parallel turn and stop at speed then red runs are relatively safe. There are generally less inexperienced skiers on these slopes, which makes collisions between skiers rarer. In most resorts, red runs tend to be less busy than the beginner slopes, which makes skiing safer for intermediate skiers. Red runs will have more uneven terrain, short narrow channels and mogul fields - which does pose a challenge even for good skiers. Ski with caution and be aware of your surroundings. Read more: Is Skiing Dangerous?

What is a red run in North America?

In Canada and the United States, red trails do not exist. They use a slightly different categorization. 🌍Rest of World: Green, Blue, Red, Black 🇨🇦🇺🇸North America: Green, BlueBlack Diamond, Double Black Diamond. The approximate equivalent to a red run in North America would be a steep section on a blue run or a shallow section on a Black Diamond run. Because each mountain is different and the trails naturally follow the undulating path of the slope, each run is different and each resorts classification will be slightly different. Ski resorts assign ratings to their own trails, rating a trail compared only with other trails at that resort.

How much more difficult is a red run than a blue run?

A red run is designed for an advanced intermediate and many ski resorts have signs advising that red runs are only for expert skiers. Red runs are more difficult than blue runs which are suited to Early intermediate skiers. The terrain on red runs is steeper, narrower and bumpier. The ski lifts may be faster and more challenging to get on and off and fellow skiers will be moving much faster.

Difference between red & black runs?

Black runs are always more difficult and steeper than red runs. Black runs are for expert skiers and they typically have a gradient that exceeds 40%. Black runs are very steep and are designed for highly skilled skiers that can deal with the extreme terrain. In Europe black is the designation of the highest difficulty of groomed slopes inside a ski resort. In North America, they use a system of black diamond and double black diamond to signify the most difficult terrain. Double black diamond runs in North America are most likely to be off-piste or backcountry and not have groomed snow.
Where Sign 
⚫ Black
🇨🇦🇺🇸North America
◈ Black & Double Black Diamond 

Red runs compared to other slopes?

Europe + Rest of World

Where Sign color Difficulty
🇪🇺Europe Green Beginner
Blue Early Intermediate
Red Advanced Intermediate
Black Expert

Europe Ski Piste Color Angles

North America: Canada & USA.

Where Sign color Difficulty
🇨🇦🇺🇸North America
Green, white center. Beginner
Green Novice
Blue Intermediate
Black Diamond Advanced
Double Black Diamond Extreme
Canada + USA Ski Trai Colors

Final Thoughts

Red runs are steep and very challenging for new skiers and comfortable for expert skiers. Only ski red runs when you can turn comfortably and stop at speed. Get good on steep blue before moving up to this color and don't be pressured into it by your peers. Enjoy the mountains and go steady!