When you’re a new skier you might act like a jerk without meaning to be rude. You simply may not know the etiquette and rules of the slopes.

When you begin skiing, you’ll see signs telling you to follow the “Skier Responsibility Code,” but what the heck is it? Ideally your ski instructor gave you a copy, or at least pointed to it on the break room wall.

Nobody showed the responsibility code to me; I had to search Google to find the common-sense list of safety guidelines. You may have missed it too. But even with the list in hand, there are more unwritten rules to follow. I figured them out through experience, mostly when I found myself annoyed at someone who didn’t know any better, or who was really being a jerk.

Riding & Skiing Etiquette

PHOTO: Denny Mont, Powder Mountain – Flickr

First, here are the written rules:

Skier Responsibility Code

  1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
Riding & Skiing Etiquette

PHOTO: Alan Richards, Flickr

KNOW THE CODE: IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. (This is a partial list. Always be safety conscious.)

Some finer points to skiing & riding courtesy:

1. Don’t wave your poles or plant them on someone else’s skis or board. The most common offenders are kids in the lift line, so I challenge responsible adults to kindly educate their little ones to be careful. Sadly many of them never notice the rest of us getting stabbed by their youngins.

2. Give new or young skiers extra room. They can be unpredictable and it may startle new skiers to have someone blast by at mach 1.

3. Lend a helping hand. We’ve all done it…wiped out so bad that the area around us looks like a yard sale, or plane crash. If you see someone take a bad fall, offer to help. They may need medical assistance or simply some gear gathered from nearby trees.

4. If you want to ride the lift together, wait outside the lift line for your crew. Backing up the line waiting, or cutting ahead of others to reach your waiting buddy, isn’t okay. If you’re confused about this rule, find a kindergartener and ask them to explain.

5. Don’t smoke on the lift. It may seem harmless to you, but some people have medical conditions, like asthma, that could ruin their day if they had to breathe your second-hand smoke.

6. Deposit trash and recycling where it belongs, not on the ground.

7. Don’t be the “out west/back east” braggart. It’s okay to share your favorite areas as long as you don’t disrespect the local’s where you are.

8. Share your lunch table. When the mountain eatery is packed shoulder to shoulder, offer your extra seats to someone left standing, you’ll make them super happy and I’ve met great people this way. I’ve also met jerks who refused to share a half open table even when asked politely.

Riding & Skiing Etiquette

PHOTO: Huffington Post

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  • Sam Clarkson

    When you pass a boarder on their back side, they can’t see you. Let them know you’re going to pass them so they don’t hit you by accident. Don’t tow your kids like in the photo above, give them the pole handle, not the pole basket otherwise they may end up with a second belly button. When in an icy lift line don’t get too close to the person in front of you. They may set their poles meaning to push forward, but have the poles slip and come back at you.

  • Michelle

    “wait outside the lift line for your crew” DOES NOT mean stand ‘IN’ the entrance of the coral. Stand away from the entrance.

    And if the mountain isn’t busy, grab that lift chair for yourself. Don’t wait. It is okay to ride the lift alone. ☮ • _/♥_ & (❄ˆ◡ˆ❄ )

    • Randy Jest

      *corral

  • mjskibunny

    Missed a few- When you exit the lift, get out of the way. There are people unloading behind you every 5 seconds. While in the lift line, stand in line with your group. This allows for groups and singles to combine and fill up chairs that hold 4-6 people. And your poles aren’t the only thing to keep to yourself. Inching forward into other people’s gear is annoying and disrespectful- not everyone is on rental gear! When stopping on the run, get to the side of the run and your group shouldn’t span across the whole Damn run.

  • raddog

    The skier in front of you has right of way. If passing remember it is YOUR responsibility to stay clear.A little “on your…….” helps if yelled BEFORE you are passing. If you screw up, apologize. Don’t blame the person you had the responsibility to avoid.

    On a crowded slope, slow down, enjoy the view and the experience. Pretending you are Bode on a crowded slope, even a black diamond, is a no-no. Scaring the heck out of others is poor sportsmanship and not needed.

  • Randy Jest

    Don’t disrespect the LOCALS where you are – no apostrophe.

    Don’t
    practice your potty mouth in the lift lines, chairs, chalets, etc. Sound
    carries farther than you think, and not everyone appreciates your
    limited vocabulary.

  • Footieboy

    When you see a sign that says “Slow”, slow down. These are placed in crowded or beginner areas where a lot of collisions happen. Don’t use them as race gates or terrain features. When you approach a “Trails Merge” sign, look up on the merging trail.

  • kdrski

    Perhaps because it’s the skiers responsibility code that boarders act the way they do

    • okemoskier

      Somebody always feels compelled to hate on snowboarders. I am a skier and have had both skiers and riders be jerks. Last time my son fell and lost his poles a snowboarder stopped, grabbed the poles, and crawled back up the slope to return them. Don’t group everyone together.

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  • Marka

    – When there is a lift line, fill each seat to the max!

    – Always help out kids on lifts

  • Mickey

    Smile, be pleasant! Speak to strangers.

  • Carolyn Sheehan

    Don’t have an attitude with the ticket scanner.