Riding and Skiing Etiquette: How to Not Be a Jerk On the Slopes

04/10/2015 01:16 pm ET | Updated Jun 07, 2015

When you're a new skier you might act like a jerk without meaning to be rude. You simply may not know the etiquette and rules of the slopes.

When you begin skiing, you'll see signs telling you to follow the "Skier Responsibility Code," but what the heck is it? Ideally your ski instructor gave you a copy, or at least pointed to it on the break room wall.

Nobody showed the responsibility code to me; I had to search Google to find the common-sense list of safety guidelines. You may have missed it too. But even with the list in hand, there are more unwritten rules to follow. I figured them out through experience, mostly when I found myself annoyed at someone who didn't know any better, or who was really being a jerk.

PHOTO: Denny Mont, Powder Mountain - Flickr

First, here are the written rules:

Skier Responsibility Code

  1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

PHOTO: Alan Richards, Flickr

KNOW THE CODE: IT'S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. (This is a partial list. Always be safety conscious.)

Some finer points to skiing & riding courtesy:
1. Don't wave your poles or plant them on someone else's skis or board. The most common offenders are kids in the lift line, so I challenge responsible adults to kindly educate their little ones to be careful. Sadly many of them never notice the rest of us getting stabbed by their youngins.

2. Give new or young skiers extra room. They can be unpredictable and it may startle new skiers to have someone blast by at mach 1.

3. Lend a helping hand. We've all done it...wiped out so bad that the area around us looks like a yard sale, or plane crash. If you see someone take a bad fall, offer to help. They may need medical assistance or simply some gear gathered from nearby trees.

4. If you want to ride the lift together, wait outside the lift line for your crew. Backing up the line waiting, or cutting ahead of others to reach your waiting buddy, isn't okay. If you're confused about this rule, find a kindergartener and ask them to explain.

5. Don't smoke on the lift. It may seem harmless to you, but some people have medical conditions, like asthma, that could ruin their day if they had to breathe your second-hand smoke.

6. Deposit trash and recycling where it belongs, not on the ground.

7. Don't be the "out west/back east" braggart. It's okay to share your favorite areas as long as you don't disrespect the local's where you are.

8. Share your lunch table. When the mountain eatery is packed shoulder to shoulder, offer your extra seats to someone left standing, you'll make them super happy and I've met great people this way. I've also met jerks who refused to share a half open table even when asked politely.

PHOTO: Huffington Post