Piste grading in Austria

Like most countries Austria uses a piste-grading system for its prepared pistes. The classification of runs from blue to black is based mainly according to the gradient of the runs. 

The range is as follows:

- BLUE easy under 20% gradient

- RED middle under 40% gradient

- BLACK difficult above 40% gradient

In addition you will see red numbered diamonds- these indicate ski routes- these are within the secured piste area (only checked against risk of avalanche), but are generally unprepared and not monitored at the end of the day. They are where you may find fresh powder without leaving the secured ski area- and are often quite mogully! These are for more experienced skiers and a good place to start training for off-piste skiing. 

At the base of all lifts you can check on the information boards which runs/lifts are open and closed. Remember if runs/ routes are closed- it is for a very good reason. Possibly for avalanche blasting or piste preparation, which could pose a big danger if you are on that slope when you shouldn't be!


There are a lot of opportunities for off-piste adventures in Austria. The best way to go backcountry skiing or explore the off-piste terrain, is to do so with a local guide. It is tempting to follow others that look like they know what they're doing, but having the local knowledge and correct equipment means you will be in the best hands- in terms of safety, building your technique and finding the best spots for the conditions.