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If you are a skier or boarder, any day and every day on the hill is a good day. What’s not so fun is bad ski etiquette and forgetting the “golden rules” of skiing. It’s mostly common sense mixed with respect for others.

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Terrible Ski Etiquette Can Ruin a Great Day

As a ski patroller, I see it all. Here’s a list of things not to do this ski season:

Forget Lift Etiquette

Cutting in line or holding up the queue because you want to avoid sharing a chair with someone will result in scornful looks or worse. Don’t stand on the skis and snowboards of others in the line. If there’s a wait for the quad chair, get in 4s. The line moves quicker, and you get up the lift quicker. If you’ve missed your friend, wait off to the side or at the top of the lift.

Wave Your Poles Around

Just don’t do it. Keep your poles to yourself on the slope and in the lift line. There’s nothing fun about getting whacked, poked or your equipment scratched by the end of a ski pole in the lift line.

Ski or Snowboard Drunk (or High)

Wait until après ski for the party favors. Skiing after drinking can be dangerous to you and the people around you. A serious mountain and steep runs require serious effort and should be a “high” all on its own.

Drop Stuff (Or Litter)

Some folks will eat energy bars, candy or drink water on the chairlift ride. Put the wrapper in your pocket until you get to a trash can – and don’t drop your phone, gloves, poles, skis and board when you are riding up the chair. Skiers under the chair will thank you. There are typically trash cans at the top of a lift or at the lift line.

Get Out of Control

Keep working on improving but do it gradually and within reason. Bunny slope to Black Diamond in one day is not realistic (or safe). Don’t go faster or steeper than you can handle. Travel at the speed you are comfortable with and where you can control your turns and make a quick stop if necessary.

Ski Past A Man/Woman Down

Every skier has a ‘yard sale’ at some point (a wipe out across the hill that leaves skis, poles, hats, googles and dentures scattered everywhere). If you come across a yard sale, or worse, stop and ask if the downed skier is ok and/or if they need help. You can help collect their belongings or call for the Ski Patrol if they are injured.

OK – back to the fun. It’s all about having a great day outdoors and enjoying yourself. Common sense and good manners go a long way on the slopes. Stay safe, respect others and have a good time.

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19 responses to “Guide to Great Etiquette on the Mountain”

  1. Jim says:

    I’d add another, stopping in the middle of the trail! Taking a break, having a get together or a group discussion with your buds in the middle of the trail is not the way to go. Use the side of the trail, the rest of us will appreciate it.

  2. Dennis James says:

    Great info! In the past I have met some of the biggest jerks on the slopes!!

  3. Paul Wilbur says:

    Kids that learn to ski on middle school bus trips and not on family weekends are never taught these very important lessons. Thanks

  4. Wm J Lusk says:

    I agree – please don’t forget that the skier in front of you has the right of way – always! You have to respond to what they’re doing – and if you’re passing someone, and space is tight, let them know! Preventing accidents is the key!!!

  5. Herbert Marshall says:

    As well, keep your potty mouth litter to yourself. F-bombs ruin family fun. Keep it clean.

  6. Robert says:

    You could include “not” congregating in the middle of intersections. While it is the uphill skiers responsibility, you should stand off to the side to avoid blocking the trail.

  7. Debbie Davis says:

    I’d love if we could get back in the habit of “calling your side” when passing another skier! When you call “on your left / right” it helps prevent collisions from someone making a sudden turn in front of you. We were taught this golden rule 40 years ago but never hear many use it today. Would be helpful if it could be included in basic ski training again. Thanks!

  8. JOAN. PROCTER says:

    one more: Keep FAST skiing to the Black Diamond runs. I was smacked HARD by a passing cannonball, sent airborne down the hill (a Blue !), got a concussion from 2 whacks to my head…1 from his helmet, 1 from hitting the snow. The Patrol sat on the hill with me for 20 min until I could continue skiing, still dizzy. SLOW DOWN on Blue & Green slopes !

  9. Robert Weyer says:

    Thanks. I have skied for over 50 years and have noticed the decline ski etiquette. When I taught my children and now grand son to ski I included the tips you discuss. Maybe that could be part of ski lessons. I hope you comments remind us that the idea is to enjoy the mountain and stay safe. Who really wants to go down the mountain in a patroller’s sled?

  10. Ray Isola says:

    You forgot a few. 1) Don’t congregate by the lift blocking the loading areas and quickly clear away from the unload areas. 2) When stopping on the trail, stay off to the side and in a place that makes you visible to skiers coming downhill (especially on the downside of a head-wall!). And when you do stop, if you’re part of a group, don’t form a line across the trail that blocks off the descent of on-coming skiers. 3) Remember – downhill skier has the right-of-way.

  11. John Murphy says:

    I agree with all of the above. My biggest gripe is when a group of (usually snow boarders) stop on the down hill side of a ridge spreading out across the run. I come over the ridge and there’s no place to go except to try and not make a direct hit on one of them. This has changed my skiing so that I now stop or at the least slow down to be sure there’s no one there.

  12. John Murphy says:

    I think one reason etiquette has dropped is with the advent of snow boards and skis that are easier to turn, fewer people take lessons now. The consequence is that they are not as informed of the “rules of the road”.

  13. Kathy Davis says:

    Not enough ski patrol or if there is they are not saying anything to of control skiers or snowboarers .

  14. Aubeaut says:

    The no alcohol or drugs rule is a quandary. The resorts sell this stuff at the top and don’t tell me the imbibers are all riding the lift much less walking back down. Bloody Mary’s at 10am? Good luck everybody else!

  15. Ed says:

    The skier or boarder you are overtaking has the right of way.

  16. Dave says:

    A MAJOR pet peeves of mine is the people who don’t look up hill before starting to descend after a break mid hill. Please make sure the coast is clear before merging. You would do this when driving, Right?

  17. Mark says:

    Do add stopping and sitting in the middle of the slope or hanging out with friends on the run. Always go to the side to discuss your sick ability with friends.

  18. Bob Hanna says:

    All snowboarders have a blind side and all parties should understand that. So skiers do recognize that snowboarders may not know you are behind them and may overtake them. Snowboarders in return shouldn’t make a unpredictable cut across an entir trail without looking over your shoulder. Right of way is no excuse when you end up colliding. Happened to me at Mammoth and the snowboarders took off!

  19. Mark B Vizer says:

    How about new group of people who carry boomboxes to share their music with everyone who really rather not hear it? New form of pollution!

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