Ready to plan a trip to Europe, but don’t know what to expect? Here are a few of the key differences between European and North American skiing:

Mountains & Snow

The mountains in Europe are generally bigger, steeper, and span across more towns and villages than those in North America. T-Bar or “drag” lifts or are more common in Europe, but most gondolas are technologically advanced, with some having heated seats and Wi-Fi onboard! Be prepared, lift lines are less organized and will require more aggressive shuffling than in North America. Plan for bigger crowds ahead of time by researching school holidays, as they differ from those in North America.

Trail Difficulty Ratings

Europe uses different colors to designate trail difficulty than North America. Slopes are generally designated as Blue for Easy, Red for Intermediate, and Black for Expert.

Blue slopes are similar to Green slopes in North America and are great for beginners.

Red slopes are more similar to Blue slopes in North America with steeper and narrower terrain.

Black slopes are equivalent to the Black Diamond or Double Black Diamond slopes in North American and are usually groomed, although this could change by country.

Orange or Double Black slopes are extremely difficult and should only be attempted by very experienced skiers.

Yellow signifies an ungroomed and unpatrolled route that is usually off-piste and should be attempted with caution.

Off-Piste or Back Country Skiing

While ski-patrolled back country skiing is prevalent in North American skiing, the same is not true in Europe. With such large mountains, there is a greater risk for exposure to avalanches when going “off-piste” or off-trail, and skiers are taking that risk into their own hands in Europe as these areas are not monitored by ski patrol. If you do plan to ski off-piste, always come prepared with avalanche equipment and consider hiring a mountain guide.

Après Culture

As the birthplace of “Après Ski”, Europe continues to honor this tradition and delivers a great all-day, on-mountain après culture. Refined food choices can be found both on the slopes and in the historical mountain villages nearby. Given the proximity of these old villages and chalets to the lifts, ski-in ski-out is in high supply in Europe.

The Epic Pass provides unlimited access to Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis in Switzerland and limited access to our European partner resorts.

  • Unlimited Days at Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis, Switzerland
  • 7 Consecutive Days at Skirama Dolomiti, Italy and Les 3 Vallées, France
  • 5 Consecutive Days at Verbier 4 Vallées, Switzerland
  • 3 Consecutive Days at Ski Arlberg, Austria

Many of our other Season Pass products also offer access to Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis in Switzerland. Please keep in mind that special arrangements, from lodging requirements to advanced email reservations, are required to redeem free lift access at certain European resorts.

Continue scrolling to learn more about each resort.