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 Unspoken Rules That Skiers & Snowboarders (Should) Abide By

PHOTO: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

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.

10 Unspoken Rules That Skiers & Snowboarders (Should) Abide By

PHOTO: Mammoth Mountain

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.

10 Unspoken Rules That Skiers & Snowboarders (Should) Abide By

PHOTO: Copper Mountain

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.

10 Unspoken Rules That Skiers & Snowboarders (Should) Abide By

PHOTO: Whistler Blackcomb

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.

10 Unspoken Rules That Skiers & Snowboarders (Should) Abide By

PHOTO: Revelstoke/Royce Sihlis Photography

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.


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Sub-Categories liftopia / More Snowsports / Ski / Ski & Snowboard / Snowboard

43 responses to “10 Unspoken Rules That Skiers & Snowboarders (Should) Abide By”

  1. Dr. Who is trash. says:

    You say don’t be an idiot and then you encourage people to ride pow alone? Genius. Even great skiers and riders can fall victim to NARSID accidents and you should always stay with a friend especially in trees. Avoid tree wells, carry a whistle, and stay out of the trees when you’re alone.

    • KJtahoelove says:

      No friends on a pow day! Means keep up or find other people to ski with! It’s something us locals say to each other getting pumped every time it snows. While you’re choosing to be a Dingus over a cool article, a whistle won’t do much under a couple feet of snow – carry a BEACON, “genius”…gaper! I’ll never avoid trees a day in my life and sure hope friends aren’t too close. Enjoy the groomers and review unspoken rule #3

      • Dr. Who is trash. says:

        I’m glad you’re not my friend lol. Go fall in a tree well.

        • Dr. Who is trash. says:

          And a whistle is good when you know you’re trying to get the attention of people who don’t know you’re missing because you fell in the trees by yourself retard. Beacons aren’t magic.

          • Dr. Who is trash. says:

            It’s really annoying how fucking judgmental the ski/ride community is about basic safety. It’s not like you have to hold hands down the mountain, obviously have friends who are around your level who can keep relatively close to you, obviously carry a beacon if all of your other friends own one…otherwise it’s pretty fucking useless. And what is the point of talking down to my ability level? Because you want to feel so damn cool about yourself even though you have no damn idea what I’m about. I’m about everyone having fun and being safe and seeing less dumbasses like you leave the mountain in a body bag.

          • None to note says:

            Dude… Appreciate some chill factor.

          • Jacek Jarzabek says:

            don’t argue man – don’t you know people like that are “the coolest” on the planet? Not worth it man… Safety is a must. I usually only ski with my gf so it is tough to keep close (that’s why we have whistles, beacons, and a panic button device I made – works with our phones). Just hiking up to the spot we like I lunged forward, my boot found a hole, and found out that the little spruce was much bigger when my face went down the hole first. I may have been able to get out on my own but I can’t say for sure – luckily she was behind me… Don’t argue with them man..

          • Sir Francis BEC says:

            Classy use of the word “retard,” Dr Who. Go fall in a tree well.

          • Dr. Who is trash. says:

            If I do, I’ll be okay because I ride with friends.

          • kinni88 says:

            I prefer the term ru-tard

          • Lisa Kratschman says:

            Wow – you just lost me using the
            “R” word. You really have no other word in your vocabulary to use in this situation?

      • Jacek Jarzabek says:

        dude – you are an idiot – see how good that beacon will do you when NOBODY is looking for you (sure, it will be easier to find your body) – btw, I did not know ONE person who called others “gapers” and was not a complete dick…

      • Elaine Nilsson says:

        I hear that! FIST BUMP *** SNOW FALLING***

  2. shogdog says:

    This writer is most likey a gaper noob and prob doesn’t log many days hence rule # 10.
    Here’s the REAL rules of the mountain:
    1. Yield to the hosers downhill from you. Yes, everyone going slower than you is an idiot and
    everyone going faster a maniac, but all you have to do is not run over anyone in front of you.
    2. Don’t stand on my f*ing snowboard (or skis as the case may be) in the lift line. If you do you’re
    going to get thumped.
    3. If you drink or 420 and ski you’re not only risking your neck but mine. Save it for the après ski.
    4. Help some one that’s learning (find the chalet, pick up their yard sale or stand up after falling).
    If you don’t you’re a loser.
    5. Ski racers are mostly dicks and will do everything to cut in front of you in the lift line to get one more lap.
    Accept it with a Danny Davis smirk and palms up WTF and say “nice tights”…
    6. Powder stashes are way more fun with friends.
    7. You can have just as much fun with skis from the fall swap and a Carhart jacket as you can with
    a Descente gold lamay jumpsuit. This ain’t Chamonix people, act accordingly.
    8. Remember the bumper sticker “Keep Skiing Weird”? Moral: Who ever has the most fun wins.

    • Bruce MacLachlan says:

      Now THAT’S a list. Excellent and accurate. Totally beats the article. Pushing in line is one thing, but you gotta stand on my board as well to insist you’re in front of me? The annoying smell of puff on the lift, pabst cans in the snow up top and knowing drunken/stoned idiots are now abroad – somewhere. When someone’s down, help them? Wow, it’s upsetting that this actually has to be pointed out because it happens so little. The Ski racers? Apart from roping off and cutting a mountain in half and then barging in, please, some of you really shouldn’t be wearing that skintight catsuit. And yep it’s all about the fun, not the number of runs, not the grades, not the stunts, not the mountains. And everything goes better with mates, powder or not.

      • MarkTele says:

        “The annoying smell of puff on the lift…” how about the noxious fumes of tobacco, cologne, diesel from snowmos & snowcats, burgers being bbq’d outside the lodge, etc. Are those fumes OK with ya, Brucie? Wear a mask if your snout is that sensitive.

        • Bruce MacLachlan says:

          The smell doesn’t bother me rather it’s what the smell implies – impaired judgement, recklessness, dulled reaction times.

          • MarkTele says:

            “impaired judgement, recklessness, dulled reaction times”… you are confusing cannabis with alcohol. Snowboarder/cannabis user Ross Rebagliati certainly didn’t have impaired judgement, exhibit recklessness or dulled reaction times when he won Olympic Gold. Neither have other champions of the sporting world, such as Michael Phelps, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Lincecum, Randy Moss & Bill Walton.

          • Bruce MacLachlan says:

            Yeeeah, because they all stood there with a fat blunt or bowl right before the whistle blew. Stoners with no self control always love to spout that shit. I hear the same from wankers who say ‘it’s good, I’m okay to drive, dude.’ Just because you’re wasted and now don’t give a shit doesn’t mean you’re a daredevil, it just means you’re a judgement impaired gimp who is a danger to others. I drink oodles, mates of mine smoke out, but not when we’re climbing, snowboarding, or whatever. Afterwards? Bring on the bevs and roll me a spliff! I’m amazed that people can look down on DUI but think screaming down a mountain under the influence is perfectly fine and carries no dangers to others whatsoever.

          • MarkTele says:

            “Stoners with no self control always love to spout that shit.”… I’d rather be on the slopes with cannabis users, rather than some hungover dipshtt that “drinks oodles“. Alcos are the biggest self-righteous dipshtts on the planet. As Rebagliati said, “I am just keeping an even keel,” cannabis use is all about individual tolerance and dosing. So if you can’t handle it, don’t do it. But please keep your opinion, and your hungover self off the slopes.

    • shawn ross says:

      Rule 3 is your own opinion. When I smoke, I get to the next level with my skiing. Everyone is different. I will agree with the half about drinking and skiing though…

      • John Verity says:

        Balance and control applies to skiing, boarding, pinning and the way you treat others and the mountain.

      • Powder Fool says:

        Dude, when you smoke, your altered perception is that you ski at the next level. You are not any better when your brain is laced with THC.

        • Jacek Jarzabek says:

          yep – sometime a puff can relax you, but I rarely need “extra relaxation” when I ski 🙂 – once a great while, when I have a tense day, I will do a puff from my vape pen and only 100% sativa strain. But most of the people who think that they ski/board better when stonned just have their perception f’up. I know couple of guys with high anxiety who benefit from getting few puffs, but once again, all of them stick to sativa…

        • MarkTele says:

          Tell that to Ross Rebagliati, the 1998 Olympic snowboarding champion, Fool.

    • Chris Herrmann says:

      I couldn’t of said it better.

    • Jacek Jarzabek says:

      excellent list! Like the no. 4 – I am so sick of the “we are locals” who call everyone “gapers” – I love skiing and remember the days when something like horseshoe bowl at breck looked like a “it will never happen”.. perfect list – where do you ski? Hit me up if you are in Colorado

      • Jacek Jarzabek says:

        I use to live in MN – we went to Luntsen a lot, but even then we use to do 30+ days in Colorado (last year was my record year – I logged 90 and my gf 95). This year we have WP/Copper/Steamboat pass – during spring break we will most likely do Copper or WP – maybe couple days at Crested Butte (now, that is a mountain 🙂 ) – send me FB request – I’ll ski with you 🙂

    • FaceSpace says:

      I do my best to get all 3’ed out whenever I can but I never smoke anything on lifts and I certainly never litter. Keep it 8.

    • dmcneice says:

      #2, really, polish that thing and hang it on the wall then. It is more about being on the slopes than worrying about the top coat, it is for looks and who cares. The bottom is what is important and gashes can be filled. Edges and side walls that are gone, that is a problem to worry about…

      • shogdog says:

        Yah — I get your drift. Doesn’t seem to bother me if I do the scratching at all. But when some dingus in the lift line, that’s SO self involved they can’t stand on thier own skis, has to stand on mine — THAT pisses me off. Must be a character flaw… 😉

    • liftopia says:

      Great tips! We especially like #8 since “create fun and get a little weird” is a core value here at Liftopia. For more tips on skiing & riding etiquette and safety, check out this post:

    • MarkTele says:

      #3 Don’t equate drinkin with 420. If you’re buzzed on alcohol, you ski sloppier, wilder and are a risk to others on the slope. Cannabis, on the other hand, makes some of us able to see the line, get in the zone, etc. I definitely ski better after a puff on the lift, and I am also more cautious.

  3. kinni88 says:

    For Snowboarders — No sitting in the middle of the trail!
    Pick up your trash

  4. Carl Bubeck says:

    11 get off the lift and move off the ramp. Don’t stand and look around move it

  5. Jacek Jarzabek says:

    sorry, but rules 5-10 are just.. hmmm… trying to find polite way to describe how I feel about them… 1-4, sure… Apres ski? sorry, but I rather spend time with friends back home or in their place than be crashed in a bar with bunch of idiots drinking WAY overpriced beer… nah.. I pass.. But hey, whatever works. Worst part is that many idiots go drinking and then drive 2+ hours home… No friends on a powder day? Well, good luck skiing trees by yourself – as I said, 5-10 are just …… 🙂

  6. MikeTheMoorman says:

    Can’t believe you forgot “Don’t eat yellow snow”

  7. rickbolger says:

    Rules for kids and WAGs
    1. Carry your stuff
    2. No whining
    3. Be on time or I will leave without you

  8. Christopher Narveson says:

    I take issue with #4. Ski blades are fun. Especially on those frozen crud days. Don’t knock ’em till you try ’em.

  9. Dplex says:

    Katie, I like the list. Thank you for the friendly reminder.

  10. Braintruste says:

    I thought this article was going to be about safety but instead it is attempting to impose political correctness now even to being on the slopes. It is one of the most vacuous stupid articles I have ever read on the Internet in my long life. What’s next, postings that dissect if we talked to someone “single” in line, we really f-ed up? Really, in the face of climate change this sht is the best you people can do for writing?

  11. Caleb O'Connor says:

    Sharing a pow day with friends is what its all about.

  12. Jim Patterson says:

    Rule #1A: Don’t act in a way that would guarantee a physical confrontation with another person in a different public context such as a bar, restaurant, club and then be surprised or shocked when that person calls you on it, e.g. you flip off and curse someone going slower than you on a double black…and then they catch up to you at the lift and threaten to activate your dental plan (or for females, activate your boyfriend’s dental plan). In other words, don’t assume that just because you are on the slopes you can get always away with being a dick. Even worse, don’t act like a tough guy on the slope and then cry like a little punk when your “target” catches up to you in the lift line and “damn u look bigger standing next to me”. Sooner or later someone will punch your ticket and your dentist will make bank.

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