You’ve seen this sign for years – it’s often in yellow – and usually off to the side of the Main Lodge and/or at the lift line at virtually every ski resort in the world. It’s the top 10 list and “rules of the road” of the slopes. It’s a blend of common sense, safety rules and your guide to being a good citizen on the slopes.
The Alpine Responsibility Code is endorsed and used by most ski area associations, with slight variations, around the world. Those of us in the Ski Patrol rely on it as a means to promote safety and injury prevention. So let’s break it down…
1. Always stay in control. You must be able to stop, or avoid other people or objects.
This is #1 for a reason. A beginner flying out of control down an expert run is a recipe for disaster. Not being in control is not good.
2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
You can see them in front; they can’t see you from behind.
3. Do not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
Common sense here and extremely obvious – don’t stop on a sharp turn, under a jump or other place where the oncoming skier or boarder cannot stop, avoid you or potentially land on you.
4. Before starting downhill or merging onto a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
This is a similar right of way rule to #2 for crash avoidance.
5. If you are involved in or witness a collision/accident you must remain at the scene and identify yourself to the Ski Patrol.
An Accident Report Form is completed with every incident and everyone involved is needed to determine exactly what happened. A serious accident (like a car accident) needs to be broken and analyzed and will involve emergency personnel and possible changes to avoid repeats.
6. Always use proper devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
All skis have ski brakes but do they work? Double check yours to make sure the brakes kick past the bottom of your skis. If you snowboard, get a leg strap. A runaway board hurts at the bottom!
7. Observe and obey all posted signs and warnings.
There’s a lot of thought given to signs and warnings. It’s nice to choose to go down the triple Black Diamond run (as opposed to wandering on it by mistake).
8. Keep off closed trails and obey area closures.
If a trail is closed, there’s a good reason: too much or too little snow, excessive ice, debris, avalanche risk and it’s probably not groomed. If you are hurt on a closed trail, you may not be found – until spring.
9. You must not use lifts or terrain if your ability is impaired through the use of alcohol or drugs.
Lifts are totally unforgiving and potentially dangerous. Terrain is also dangerous if you are out of control and going too fast. Impaired judgement often leads to bad decision (think of your ex). Save the fun for après ski time.
10. You must have sufficient physical dexterity, ability, and knowledge to safely load, ride, and unload lifts. If in doubt, ask the lift attendant.
If you’ve never been on a particular lift before, ask the attendant or ski patrol for instructions. Watch those ahead of you getting on and then getting off the lift. After your second ride, you’ll feel like an old pro.
The best protection against accidents is to know your limits and the Alpine Responsibility Code. Everyone’s goal (especially from those of us in the Ski Patrol) is to have fun, enjoy a day on the slopes and stay safe. Be Aware, Ski, Snowboard and Ride With Care.