Frontside skiing generally refers to the runs and terrain on the same side of the mountain as the base area or ski lodge. It’s also a way to define where easier terrain exists that beginner and intermediate skiers can easily access.
I’m a lifelong skier who loves everything about the sport. I’ve skied in just about every type of condition and situation you can imagine, with thousands of frontside laps under my belt over the years.
I’ll describe in detail what frontside skiing is in this post. If you are new to the sport, you might not know all the different terms and words used to describe it. My goal is to clear things up and make you a little more informed.
Let’s get after it.
Frontside Skiing Definition
While there isn’t an exact definition of frontside skiing, it basically refers to any mountain area on the same slope/side as the ski lodge or base. This is a loose term that also helps describe easier-to-access terrain that can be good for less skilled skiers.
If you think about a mountain in general terms, it has sides. Every mountain will obviously have a somewhat different shape, but the skiing world has simplified things down into giving resort mountains two sides: frontside and backside.
Even though a mountain is more of a pyramid shape with four sides, breaking things down into two makes for an easy way to reference different types of terrain. This can help skiers describe their bearings and understand where they want to head for the day.
What Type of Terrain Exists in Frontside Skiing?
Frontside skiing will typically have easier runs than the backside of the mountain. You can expect to find more greens and blues on the frontside, as well as groomed runs. The exact terrain can vary from resort to resort, but it’s usually more accessible.
Even though there are plenty of easy runs on the frontside of a resort, this doesn’t mean that skiing greens are the only option here. Most racecourses are set up on the frontside, and these are on steeper blues or even blacks that help increase speed and excitement.
You typically won’t find that much extreme terrain on the frontside. Since it’s closer to the base area and more accessible, frontside areas have been groomed, manicured, and maintained in a way that limits some chances for expert terrain.
You’ll also find more groomed runs on the frontside. This is because more beginner skiers stick closer to the base area and want access to good conditions and easier runs. It’s also because the snowcats don’t need to drive as far to groom the slopes.
The truth is that there isn’t an exact type of terrain you’ll find on the frontside. While you can expect groomed greens and blues, you can also find all sorts of other terrain on the frontside. It just depends on the location where you are skiing.
Who Should Ski on the Frontside?
Anyone can go frontside skiing, and there technically isn’t a specific type of skier that this area is better for. There is more beginner-friendly terrain here, so you’ll often see more beginners on the frontside. That’s also because these runs are easy to access.
However, frontside skiing isn’t limited to beginners. If you like cruising or skiing on groomed runs, you will love the frontside. It’s also an excellent area for carving turns, racing, technique, and other intermediate skills.
The frontside makes for a good place for families and groups of friends to ski. Because the runs are a little easier and more accessible, it can be easier to stay in a group and allow everyone to find something they like to ski.
There are also more amenities on the frontside, so if you want to have a hot lunch or go into the lodge to warm up, you’ll want to ski here. It really just depends on how you want to experience your ski day.
Frontside Skiing vs Backside Skiing
The biggest difference between frontside and backside skiing is the type of terrain you are likely to encounter. Frontside skiing will have more groomed runs suitable for beginner and intermediate skiers.
Backside skiing will usually have more challenging runs better suited to advanced and expert skiers. This means that you can find more ungroomed runs on the backside, leading to more chances for powder.
Frontside skiing will also give you more access to ski resort amenities like food and equipment rentals. If you want to go into a lodge and have multiple food options or need to change out your rental gear, the frontside can be a better location.
That doesn’t mean that there are absolutely no amenities on the backside; it just means that you won’t have as many options. The backside can still have a warming lodge or even a place to buy food, but your choices will probably be limited.
Frontside skiing can also be more crowded than backside skiing. This is because it’s the resort area where everyone starts their day, so a bottleneck effect can sometimes occur. The backside can still get crowded, it’s just not always as crowded.
As you can see, frontside skiing is a pretty broad term used to describe the area of a resort closer to the lodge or base area. There are plenty of good ski runs and amenities on the frontside, and it can be a better learning area for beginners.
Anyone can go frontside skiing, and I’ve had plenty of amazing days sticking close to the base. But if you want to explore and challenge yourself, you might need to venture to the backside.