Skier Responsibility Code

The Rules of the Skier's Road!

Skiing ABCs C -- The Code
Know it! Image from the NSAA

On the whole skiing is a safe and enjoyable way to get outside and be active during the winter. However, skiing does have its perils. A couple of years ago a fellow who must have been with a ski club or team was at the bottom of a run with a radar gun. I came down and my recollection is he yelled 42 mph (or around there) at me.

One can do a lot of damage to one’s self or to others at that speed, and that is what the skier responsibility code is about.

When boating the general rule is the more maneuverable of the boats is expected to surrender the right of way to the less maneuverable. In skiing this can be rephrased as the skier with more knowledge & control yields to the skier with less knowledge and control.

  1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. If this means skiing at a boringly slow speed than so be it. As I note above you can get going quite fast on skis and if you lose the ability to turn away from the woods or another skier at 40+mph (or even 20mph) you are in a world of serious serious hurt.

  3. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  4. People down the hill from yourself are not expected to turn their heads uphill to make sure they do not get in your way. YOU must yield to them. When coming up on skiers below you slow down, pattern them, plan your line, and then ski around them. However, be sure to give them a lot of space and I strongly recommend against passing them on the outside when on a trail’s edge, they could break out of their pattern and cut off your line forcing you to go off of the trail or worse.

    Remember, those people downhill from you have a responsibility to avoid those downhill from them. If everyone is playing by that rule all should be fine.

  5. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  6. You need to make sure you clear out of those areas as fast as possible. Give the uphill skiers a chance to see you and ski around you.

  7. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  8. This seemingly contradicts the notion of the uphill skier having to yield the right of way to downhill skiers, but that applies to skiers in motion or on the run. If you are stopped and I am skiing down to you I will ski away from you if possible but you have a lot more control of the situation than I do (even though I am under control). As far as merging goes again I may not see you and am skiing a line next to the nexus of the trails again you have the edge in control.

  9. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  10. This is kind of obsolete but make sure they work. I knew a guy who still leashed his skis to his ankle, he wiped out his ski became unleashed, and zoomed down the hill on its own.

  11. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  12. Most of the skiing I do is at small resorts and there is no such thing as out of bounds skiing. Don’t do it, who knows maybe under that layer of tempting powder is a pipe that will catch your skis and face plant you.

  13. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
  14. Getting on a lift is not that hard but make sure you verify the type of chair you will be loading onto. Make sure you don’t have any clothing items that are long and dangly (or gather it all up) and remove your wrists from your ski pole straps. You don’t want those items catching on the machinery of the lift. Other than those items loading onto a ski-lift chair is only going to be problematic when you are a beginner.

Good Stuff!

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