In life, there are unspoken truths—facts and ideas that are so widely acknowledged that they are not questioned, merely upheld.
Example: Nothing good ever happens after someone says, “Hold my beer and watch this.”
Sometimes these truths are ignored; the consequences are usually obvious.
Example: No tattoo should ever be inked after you’ve consumed copious amounts of tequila. ‘I’m Awsome’ is definitely not awesome and ‘No Regerts’ will most certainly cause some.
Almost every culture has these rules, whether it’s for a certain region or for a particular sport. In sports, these rules are often implied, but not explicit until you’ve been a part of the culture for a while. Mockery, whether subtle or overt, may enuse.
Skiing and snowboarding are no different. To assist those that may not yet be initiated, we’ve rounded up the 10 unspoken rules that skiers and snowboarders abide by. Well, mostly.
Rules are made to be broken, right?
10. Don’t gloat about the number of days on the mountain you have.
This rule is mostly about courtesy. Yes, it’s fantastic that you haven’t missed a day on the slopes since the start of the season, but not everyone has that opportunity. When asked, mention the number casually, but don’t brag.
Too much boasting may frustrate those who can’t get out as often as they’d like; you might end up with ski pole in your back as you disembark from the lift. (I’ve never actually seen this happen, but the idea has run through my mind a few [thousand] times.)
9. Don’t assume that someone is single because he or she is in the Singles line.
A day on the slopes is a day on the slopes and, depending on one’s schedule, sometimes you have to take your runs “alone.” Riding in the Singles line can also speed up the process on a busy day, so don’t assume that the guy or girl that just joined your chair is itching to hear your smoothest come-on.
8. Don’t covet that stranger’s gear.
A set of skis or snowboard does not a rider make. Just because the person next to you is rocking the newest pair of sticks doesn’t mean that he or she is a better skier or snowboarder. Respect your own skills and respect your gear. It works hard for you.
7. Apres is sacred.
A full day conquering the mountain can take a toll on the body. When the lifts close for the day, it’s appropriate to celebrate with food and (adult) beverages to replenish your energy and commune with others of similar passions. And if you didn’t make it on the mountain, it’s appropriate to apres as penance for what you missed. Or simply to spend time with friends.
6. Don’t inflate your skills.
You know that you didn’t actually land that 720 in the pipe (and so do the people who did), so why are you talking up your nonexistent skills? While a bit of boasting is commonplace and even expected, out and out lying ain’t cool. Respect yourself for the skills you actually possess and, if you find them lacking, do something about it.
5. Honor your home mountain.
Though there’s nothing wrong with visiting other mountains (you should), you should not disparage your home mountain. Even if it’s a holiday and it’s overrun with novices, or if it’s 300 degrees below freezing, or if it hasn’t snowed in months. It’s still the place that you chose as your home mountain—respect it or move on.
4. There are things you can’t unsee.
Like snowblades. Don’t contribute to the horror.
3. No whinging, no moaning, no whining.
About conditions, about how your bindings aren’t set correctly, about how you’re hungover from last night. Suck it up, buttercup. You’re on the mountain and it’s better than being at work.
2. Don’t be an idiot.
This includes being a jerk to other skiers or snowboarders, skiing or riding out of control, ignoring signs and warnings and venturing out into the backcountry unprepared. It bears repeating: Don’t be an idiot.
And the number one Unspoken Rule…
1. There are no friends on a powder day.
It’s every man and woman for himself and herself. Just be sure to coordinate a rendezvous spot for apres (see Rule 7) and score as much of the fresh stuff as you can.
For more tips on courtesy and safety on the slopes, see our guide to riding and skiing etiquette.