Skier/Riders Responsibility Code: A Few Additions

We've all seen the signs posted around the resort.  The signs are in the lodge, outside the ticket window and on the chairlift.  The Skier/Riders Responsibility Code (The Code) developed by the National Ski Patrol has been plastered all over every ski resort for as long as I can remember.

Skier responsibilty code

  • Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.

  • People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.

  • You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.

  • Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.

  • Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.

  • Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.

  • Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.


And we've all broken one or two of these rules, be it slipping under a rope to hit a stash or stopping and waiting for a friend in the middle of the trail. However, following the code of conduct makes your favorite ski resort and mine a much more enjoyable place. What you may not know about the Code, is that the National Ski Patrol denotes on their website that the list above is only a partial list, and that those of us who enjoy the gifts of the mountain should "always show courtesy to others and be aware that there are elements of risk in skiing that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce."

Since "The Code" is not an exhaustive list, may I propose a few additions?

1. Clear the unloading area


Skiers love to complain about boarders clogging up the unloading area of the lift.  However, I have had to slalom around just as many skiers who decide that the middle of the unloading areas a good place to put on their gloves or stop and wait for their friends.  Have a plan before you get on the chair, there is plenty of time in the lift line to figure out which direction you are going at the top.  And boarders, don't just plop down in the middle of the run to strap in.  Slide to the side and make room for people to pass, you are not the only person on the mountain.

2. Be a responsible pet owner


I love my dog as much as anyone, and dogs are so welcome at my home mountain, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, that they issue our four legged family members their own pass. However, I don't like having a wet dog nose stuck in my ear when I'm trying to boot up in the parking lot. If your furry friend can't keep its nose and or tongue to himself consider keeping him on a leash. And by the way, kicking snow over your pets steaming pile is not the high elevation alternative to a pooper-scooper. Do your doodie duty and clean up after Fido. Be a responsible pet owner, keep Fido under control and we will all have continued access for our four-legged friends, don't spoil it for the rest of us.

Terrain Park

3. Get out of the park (on a powder day)


Don't sit around the park bemoaning the crappy conditions of your favorite feature the morning after a big dump.  That big wide board strapped to your feet was invented for the sole purpose of riding powder.  The park crew hasn't touched up that landing or cleared that rail because they are too busy enjoying last night's gift from Mother Nature, and you should be doing the same.  Go carve some lines while it lasts, the park and the crew will be there tomorrow.

4. Continue buying new equipment every year


Yes, that board or set of skis you bought last year after the glossy inch-think Buyers Guide issue of your favorite magazine dropped into your mailbox is definitely worn out after those three weekend trips you took to the mountain last season. Never-mind that your gear spent more time on the roof of your car than actually sliding over the snow; it is so last season and you totally need a new gear. I look forward to seeing you at the ski swap in October.

5. Your GoPro footage is not an excuse for bad behavior


The GoPro camera is an amazing piece of technology that allows us to capture and relive our adventures. With that technology comes responsibility. Running into little kids because you are concentrating on your selfie footage is unacceptable. Laying down GoPro footage does not give you exclusive access to any feature or line that you have set your directorial sites on. Your GoPro footage does not excuse you from using common sense or exhibiting common courtesy to your fellow man. Keep in mind that capturing footage of that epic day on the mountain is not more important than the safety or enjoyment of those around you. Always keep in mind that if you are truly good enough to be captured on film, there will be a whole crew dedicated to following you around the mountain and clearing that line for you.

John Sills

John is based in Northern California and enjoys snowboarding, hiking, biking, camping and river rafting with his family.  You can follow his family friendly outdoor adventures on his blog www.TheMountainsAreCalling.Us or follow John on Twitter @johnsills.
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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