Ski Etiquette – Lift Line Do’s and Don’ts

I’m from the Emily Post generation – a lover of etiquette. Manners and decorum are what sets us apart from primates and snowboarders ( lol – that’s a joke people, calm down!). Etiquette at its core contributes to everyone on the ski slopes feeling more respected, safe and comfortable, especially as ski resorts are much more-frequented (code for crowded) from discounted high-volume mega-mountain passes and people “working from home”. I haven’t seen lift lines this long since the 1980’s.

It saddens me to read about ski-rage on the mountain, and to witness rude behavior – toward fellow skiers or ski resort employees. So how do we manage more politely during this modern era of “mountain mania”?

Here are some Lift Line Do’s and Don’ts – and etiquette tips to elevate your ski day

1.      Pass or Ticket Ready: Try to have your pass or ticket readily available and scan-able BEFORE you reach the ticket checker. Fumbling, dropping gear and holding up the rear in the lift queue is not cool. Getting upset if your pass does not scan properly is not cool. If the liftie needs to see your pass, be cooperative and polite.

2.      Don’t Block the Lane Waiting: Organize your group before proceeding toward the lift. If you are waiting for someone still on the hill, (no saving spaces like high school lunch tables) step aside, well out of the flow of traffic, so as not to block the way, especially directly in front of loading.

3.      Communicate: Make it clear to other groups merging, and the lift attendant, how many of you are riding together. Don’t step on other people’s equipment or crowd them, give some space and courtesy. Alternate, Smile, Merge like a Zipper and Pair Up.

4.      Single? If you want the lift line to move along, ask if you can pair up with some fellow skiers. Similarly, if you pass the singles line and your chair is not full, politely invite a single or two to fill your chair or Gondi. Fill the lift to the best of your ability, and don’t let chairs go empty – its one of the 10 skiing commandments.

5. Listen and Love your Liftees: They’re just doing their job to try to make everyone’s ski day go smoothly. Its not easy organizing distracted cattle into lanes, and groups of 4, 6, and now 8 at Big Sky and Loon’s 8 pack chairs, plus Gondola math at 8, 10, 12!

6.  Hang Up the Phone – Pay Attention: As you approach the loading area, be sure your phone is put away, and you are ready. Nothing frustrates your fellow skiers more after waiting than you jamming up the lift line letting chairs go empty, or worse stopping the lift! #Jerry #Gaper See Skier Pet Peeves

7.      Once on the Chair – Bar Down: Getting on the chair, sit, lean back and prepare for the safety bar to come down, or announce – “I’d like to put the bar down”. Its courtesy, safety, and in many states – the law, to bring the safety bar down as soon as possible, but not banging heads of the unprepared – so let your passengers know. Also don’t lift the safety bar till the sign at the top that indicates to raise the bar. In Europe there are strict laws for safety bars and often the bar is locked down until just feet from the top terminal. Meanwhile, enjoy the foot rest and your secure ride.

8.     Unplug: Try engaging if you are sharing a chair with a new skier or rider. At least say hello before returning to your tunes.  It’s not necessary, but it’s nice, polite even. Who knows? You might make a new ski friend, or steer a new skiers to the right terrain. As for your tunes, music on the mountain is a personal choice and everyone around you did not choose to hear your jam today so keep the audio to private listening unless your chair is in rockin’ agreement.

9.  Keep ‘Er Movin’: Disembarking from the lift, move away from the unloading area to make it safe for the next batch to unload. Gather your group away from the flow of traffic.

On The Slopes Tips too:

10.  Know The Code and practice it daily! A few key concepts are always ski in control, avoid the downhill skier, stop on the side of the trail in a safe visible place, look up when starting or merging, observe lift and trails signs, and don’t ski closed trails (called “rope ducking” by locals).

11.  Look Up Hill and Be Polite: Yes the Downhill skier (or rider) has the right-of-way ALMOST ALWAYS! BUT if you are stopped, you need to look up the hill before starting again. Just because you are below does not make it safe to push off and cut off a descending skier or rider. Also, if you are merging onto a trail, you may be able to merge below a skier on the trail – but again, if it impedes their progress you should be polite and yield. Same applies if you want to switch sides on a trail, look up the hill as you move your line and do not cut in front of someone else’s line.

To my fellow experienced skiers – please be patient with newbies. The growth of this sport with beginners may seem frustrating, but it benefits the long-term health of our sport, and success at your resort. We all had to learn at one time and a positive encounter can have a butterfly effect in our skiing community. Same goes for a less-than-kind encounter.

Have fun, be safe, be kind, take your turn, don’t miss you turn, and enjoy your turns on snow. Skiing is a privilege not a right, right?! A little on slope courtesy goes a long way to brighten and enhance everyone’s ski day. Safety is simple – and conversely accidents happen fast – especially if you are too fast and out-of-control, endangering yourself and others. And pick up a copy of Emily Post’s Etiquette to throw a smashing après ski dinner party. Seriously, the classy dame knew how to entertain inclusively to the envy of an entire society! Cheers! 

See more:
Ski Pet Peeves
Skiing and Cell Phones on the Ski Slopes
Know the Code- Skiers Responsibility Code