Guide to Great Etiquette on the Mountain

This Post Was Originally Published on the Liftopia Blog on March 14, 2019 by Mark Crone

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.

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, goggles, 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.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes On The Mountain

A great day of skiing
Photo by Melvin Wahlin on Pexels.com

As a ski patroller and veteran skier, I’ve seen more than my share of mistakes on the mountain. And there is a theme with common mistakes – not being prepared and/or not skiing smart. Here’s how to avoid those common mistakes on the mountain:

1. Be prepared for a Workout

Skiing and snowboarding are great workouts. A day on the slopes requires stamina, a strong core and leg muscles. If you plan on hitting a big mountain with long runs, skiing will be harder still. If you have a decent fitness level, you’ll have a good base for your day on the slopes and adjust easier to the demands of skiing and boarding. A regular fitness routine will help you to ski or snowboard better and longer.

2. Avoid heading straight to the Black Diamonds

A skier on a black diamond run
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Start out easy at the beginning of the day. Experienced skiers always take it easy for, at least, the first few runs before heading off to the diamond runs. Warm up and get your focus on movement, turns and technique before you crank it up on more challenging stuff. Gain confidence with easier runs before moving to diamond runs. Work your way up to the more serious, advanced, narrow, thrill rides.

3. Use common sense

There is something called the Alpine Responsibility Code which many skiers know, and many don’t. It’s typically posted on a yellow sign at the bottom of most lifts. It’s a combination of safety rules and common sense for skiers and snowboarders. For example, always stay in control; do not stop where you obstruct a trail, before starting downhill or merging onto a trail, look uphill and yield to others, etc. Follow these rules (ski smart) and you’ll stay safe and avoid the common mistakes of others.

4. Pay attention to lifts

Walking back to the chalet after a great day of snowboarding
Photo by Visit Almaty on Pexels.com

Getting on and off lifts is prime for accidents. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll quickly find that the chairlift is unforgiving. High speed chairs pick you up slowly, but then move fast. Be ready, line up with skis pointed forward and poles in hand. Getting off a chairlift can be a challenge for novice skiers and boarders. At the offloading area, simply stand up and let the chair push you. T-bars or other vintage lifts are completely unknown to new or young skiers, so ask for help from the lift operator or ski patrol if you need it.

5. Don’t think you can ski all day (with no break)

If you only ski while on a ski vacation, you’ll need to pace yourself for a full day on the slopes. As a Canadian Ski Patroller, I’m on shift all day and break the day into parts: a few hours of skiing and then take a break. Back out again for a few more hours then take a lunch break. After lunch, I’m back out again with a break in the afternoon. Don’t over do it and your last run will be as good as your first run.

6. Avoid borrowing your Dad’s old equipment

2 skiers taking a break from skiing
Photo by julie aagaard on Pexels.com

Chances are your Dad’s equipment is old, worn out and/or doesn’t fit. Take a pass. If you don’t have your own equipment, rent from a ski shop where they will provide decent equipment based on your skill level. Boots need to be comfortable. Bindings should be set so that they will release your skis when needed. Tuned up skis make it easier to hold an edge and get down the hill. Helmets are very much in style and should be mandatory for their obvious protection. A helmet can’t prevent a concussion, but it could reduce the severity of one. Use quality equipment that fits you and your level of ability.

7. Not Layering Up

I’ve become a bit of an expert at dressing for winter. Wearing the wrong type of clothes can result in a not-so-happy ski day. For example, don’t wear cotton socks and a cotton shirt as your base layer. You will not be warm. The best way to layer up for skiing is to have three high-quality layers: a thin base layer (long johns); an insulating mid-layer (fleece or ski sweater) and then ski pants/ski jacket. Keep active, take rest breaks and keep nourished (your body stays warmer with fuel intake). If your clothes get wet, change them.

Get ready for a great day on the slopes! If you are going on a ski vacation, check out my TuGo post – What to Pack for a Ski or Snowboard Trip. And don’t forget your travel insurance if you travel outside your home province or Canada. Have fun, stay safe and enjoy the great outdoors!