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In preparation for generating a new map of an area I ski, I am adding the trail data to OSM. And I have become confused as to the proper piste:type values to use.

Most trails are over old logging drags or are marked with metal tags attached to trees and are easily followed in summer (hiking) or winter (cross country skiing). I've tagged those as piste:type=nordic with piste:grooming=backcountry. They are used by people on classic, light weight, nordic ski gear.

However there are a number of "trails" that are "general direction suggestions". They do not follow obvious old road cuts or clearings (but may follow a drainage or ridge). These are unflagged and unmarked in the field. These "trails" are usually used by people using heavier telemark type gear.

It looks like the piste:type=skitour might be the appropriate tag for these "general direction" "trails" but the wiki page at refers to and the description there would actually fit all of the trails.

What piste:type value should I use for these? Or should I even add them to the OSM database at all?

I don't need an answer immediately as the recommended route for some of these has changed since I last got GPS tracks and I need to do some new field work before I can enter them, but when I get there I would like to know what to do on them.

asked 27 Mar '13, 00:18

n76's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%

As always the best way to understand the generally accepted meaning of a tag is to examine existing usage. Taginfo shows that piste:type=skitour has been used 806 times on OSM. Using the XAPI button on taginfo I downloaded all these as an OSM XML file and inspected it in JOSM. The bulk of the usage is in the Alps, and the individual ways I checked are true alpine ski-tours, such as the ascent of the Strahlhorn, or classic backcountry ski descents such as Teufi. (Personally, I think this usage is overloaded, and that we still need better tagging to discriminate between these, they require completely different skills and experience).

You could examine usage of piste:type=nordic in a similar way to see if there are any areas where someone has already tagged similar ski routes to those you wish to map. I expect that, as with alpine skiing, the tagging scheme still has holes. If it does then feel free to suggest and use enhancements (contrary to much of what the wiki says tag usage is established by practice and example).

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answered 27 Mar '13, 10:53

SK53's gravatar image

SK53 ♦
accept rate: 22%

Thank you. I've been checking taginfo to see the relative frequency of various usages but am a newbie at OSM and was unaware of the technique for digging deeper in to this to find the actual use cases for examination.

(27 Mar '13, 15:51) n76

I wonder if it's necessary to split piste:type=skitour with wikipedia described variants, but why not. Another way would be to use piste:difficulty to grade these, maybe with new values. One thing I'm quite sure off is that we shouldn't describe a piste by the gear required or commonly used on a particular trail, but rather from the experience and skills needed.

(27 Mar '13, 21:51) yvecai

I've seen some pistes tagged piste:type=nordic, piste:grooming=backcountry. example

This would account for backcountry crosscountry skis, which or not the same gear used in alpine ski-touring.

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answered 27 Mar '13, 07:10

yvecai's gravatar image

accept rate: 9%

Thanks for the link but that would be, in this case, not a good example as that is the area I am trying to update. For an example of the old map see

(27 Mar '13, 15:47) n76

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question asked: 27 Mar '13, 00:18

question was seen: 3,322 times

last updated: 27 Mar '13, 21:51

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum