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

I’m from the Emily Post generation – a lover of etiquette. Mannersmatter, and decorum sets us apart from primates and snowboarders (lol – that’s a joke folks, calm down!). Etiquette at its core contributes to everyone on the ski slopes feeling more respected, safe and comfortable. This is especially true as ski resorts are much more-frequented (that’s code for crowded) from discounted high-volume mega-mountain passes (EPIC & IKON) and more 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, riders, or ski resort employees. That’s not cool snow friends! So how do we promote more politeness during this modern era of “mountain mania”?

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

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 lift queue is not cool. Getting upset if your pass does not scan properly is also appropriate. 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 up 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 other skiers. Similarly, if you are next to 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 to load a fast moving 800-pound chair. This is especially true now with 6-pack chairs at Vail, and 8-packs at Big Sky, Sunday River and Loon. Then there’s exponential Gondola math of 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 in line than you jamming up the lift load process letting chairs go empty, or worse causing the lift to stop! #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. Don’t bang heads over this, make sure your riders are prepared – simply let your passengers know “bar down.” 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. So, enjoy the footrest 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 poach someone else’s line (especially on a pow day).

To my fellow experienced skiers – please be patient with newbies. Beginners “in your way” 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 that can snowball.

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. Conversely, accidents can 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