My Ski Slang Dictionary: Clem Gray

Whether you’re a newbie to the mountain scene or a relentless ripper, this go-to guide gives you an introduction to slang you’ll hear on the slopes. 

Avy Kit: Refers to the gear you’ll need when heading out into the backcountry. A shortened term for “Avalanche Kit”, it’ll consist of a avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe. You’ll need to know how to use them, practice relentlessly and it’s highly recommended you take an avalanche awareness course. 

Basket: Not something you take shopping, but the plastic bit attached to a ski pole that stops it sinking too far into the snow. 

Chatter: This isn’t a noisy natterer, but rather the sound made by your skis when you speed downhill

Dump: Sounds unsavoury, but it’s actually a cause for celebration: a dump refers to a fall of fresh snow. 

Eat Shit: When you fall face first into the snow/ice/powder. Worse of all is if it’s on a browning patch of melted snow. Then, it really does look like you may have ‘eaten shit’. 


Flex: The amount of bend/curve/give in a snowboard or a pair of skis. It’s also found in boots too: the higher the flex number, the more rigid the boot will be. 

Goofy: If you’re a snowboarder, you’ll either ride with a regular (left foot in front), or goofy stance (right foot in front).

Herringbone: A ski technique to help project oneself up the slopes - think of a duck waddling upward, but with a pair of skis. 

Invert: An invert is when you throw yourself off a jump, and perform a trick upside down. Normally reserved for rippers. 

Jägerbomb: A horribly potent shot consisting of a shot of jagermeister dropped into a glass of red bull. These are consumed relentlessly (and often unwillingly) throughout a snow season. 


Kick Turn:  A stationary move performed with a pair of skis where you shift them 180 degrees - handy when ski touring to ascend steep terrain. 

Leafing: Spot beginners snowboarder as they ‘leaf’ their way down the slope. They’ll be pointing with a finger in the direction they’d like to go and (supposedly) gliding like a leaf down the piste. 

Moguls: These lumps of snow that skiers dodge expertly around are formed by repeated turns by riders. Snowboarders have a propensity to avoid them. 

Nanny: Nannies tend to have a reputation in the ski season scene as being fairly wanton. Thus, being referred to as a nanny can often refer to your sexual promiscuity. 

Off-piste: Simply put, everything that isn’t on piste. Essentially any slope or terrain that isn’t a prepared ski run - from unmarked descents through trees, wide bowls or ploughing off into the big ole backcountry.


Pillow: A soft fluffy-looking plump pillow of snow that’s ideal to land jumps. They normally form around rocks so take caution when slaying a pillow line. 

Question Everything: When heading into the backcountry or off-piste, one should question everything. In preparation: take a course, have all the gear, know how to use it and take all necessary precautions.

Ripper: A superb skier or snowboarder, who skis or rides so well they tend to ‘rip’ up the terrain. Can also be known as a ‘shredder’, as in a similar fashion they too ‘shred’ up the slope. 

Snotsicle: A snotsicle is an unsavoury icicle that forms out of the end of your nose after a profusion of nose drip congregates. They can be an unsassy addition to your facial attire. 

Tracked Out: When you wake late on a powder day to see all the off-piste has been ridden over repeatedly. When this happens, the terrain has already been “tracked out”. If you snooze on powder days, you lose. 



Unweighting: The term given to any movement up or down that reduces pressure on skis/snowboard. 

Vertical drop: The elevation that a skier/snowboarder can expect to ride in the mountains. It’s measured between the base of the mountain and its tallest point. 

Wipeout: When a rider takes a drastic fall and smashes into the piste. Normally seen when tricks off big kickers go awry. 

Xavier De La Rue: A French big-mountain snowboarder, who’s won the Freeride World Tour three times in a row and been awarded the FWT’s ‘Best Line’ award twice. He was also the lead rider in the latest “Point Break” film (good for trivia knowledge). 

Yard Sale: When one falls whilst skiing or snowboarding and ends up leaving a trail of items/gear behind them as they tumble down the mountain, in a fashion similar to a yard sale. 

Zoo: Après ski, essentially the drinking and socialising part after skiing, involves copious amounts of alcohol, and it can turn into a “zoo”. Picture seasonnaires jiving on tables and benches, serious amounts of shots and antics similar to wild beast in a zoo.