Have you ever taken a trip up to the Rocky Mountains, tried to talk with the locals and not understand what the hell they were talking about? Well I have, and I recently realized that the folks who live up in these small mountain towns of the Rocky Mountains have their own vernacular and terminology when it comes to the snow sports they engage in. Now I can’t guarantee that this list is the “be-all, end-all” of mountain town terminology but its my best attempt at preparing you for some of the strange terms that you’ll most likely encounter in the areas of Breckenridge, Vail, Aspen and Steamboat….basically the Rocky Mountain ski towns.
Hopefully this list might help you look like less of a dumbass than I did.
FRESH POW: Short for “powder”, it refers to fluffy new snow fall that would resemble powder. Perfect ski and snowboard conditions.
VERT: Short for “Vertical” and used to describe the distance in feet of how high you ascend or decent up or down a mountain.
ROLLING DOWN THE WINDOWS: When you go off a jump and desperately try to stay centered in the air by swinging both arms in frantic circles. Dare I say it, in a motion similar to rolling down a window.
HAVING A YARD SALE: When you wipe out while going down the mountain and your gear flies off in different directions as if you are getting rid of your shit, not unlike having a yard sale.
SLED: A mountain man’s term for Snow Mobile.
DROP A LINE: To determine a line of sight or a pathway down a slope. Usually reserved for backcountry skiing and snowboarding in order to find a clear path between trees.
HOT LAP: When you drive your lazy friends up the mountain in a snow mobile so they can ski or snowboard down.
CANADIAN STYLE: When two people ride on a snow mobile with one person on each side. Each person holds one of the two handle bars.
GAPER: Pronounced “Gay-Per”, it’s a derogatory term for out-of-towners or weekend warriors who suck at skiing and snowboarding. The term comes from the “gap” between their goggles and their hat. The classic image of a Gaper is someone in 1980’s ski attire, usually head-to-toe in bright neon colors.
If you are reading this article then you are probably a Gaper. I know I am.