What is the responsibility code, and how does it keep me safe?
All new skiers and boarders must learn about the skiing & snowboarding responsibility code
(the full code is at the end of this article). This is a code of guidelines that is posted in
lodges across the country; they’re here to keep you safe on the slopes. It’s very important
to learn and abide by these guidelines! These are the basic rules of safety and etiquette,
and if you don’t abide by them, you could get hurt, or hurt someone else.
There are a few of these rules that new skiers and boarders are most likely to break -- out
of ignorance, perhaps -- but, because SKI BUMS are not only brilliant but courteous,
Freshies is here to help you become an exemplary beginner!
RULE: People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to
This is common sense, but keep in mind that people can’t tell that you’re coming from
behind them. If you approach a hill or a turn that doesn’t have much visibility on the other
side, slow down. If you’re approaching someone, but you’ve got more speed than they do
and they can’t see you, it’s a common courtesy to shout “on the left” or “on the right” before
you pass them. It’ll keep them from making a sudden turn and blocking your path. (If
someone says this to you, give them a friendly “thank you” so they know you heard them.)
This is especially common practice on “cat tracks,” the thin runs that connect one part of the
mountain to another, where a collision can be especially dangerous.
RULE: You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
Don’t stop smack-dab in the middle of the run to take pictures, chat with your friends, or
rest up. If you stop on a run, it isn’t merely common courtesy to move to the edges of the
trail - it’s expected. Doing anything else is likely to get you a serious scolding from skiers
and boarders who have to maneuver around you to go down the trail. It’s considered by
many to be the most dangerous thing you can do on the slopes.
Again, don’t stop in the middle of a trail. Unfortunately, this is a common
infraction on East Coast local mountains.
There are two exceptions. If you’re lucky enough to be out on the mountain on a very un-
crowded day, and there’s simply no one around, you’re fine - just make sure that you’re
someplace with lots of visibility from above. And, if you’re on the bunny hill, you can stop
pretty much wherever you like, other than right in front of the rope tow or chair lift
RULE: Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to
Many resorts will post big orange signs that say “TRAILS MERGE” - if you see one of these
signs, slow down and look to see if there are others who are about to merge onto your trail.
The most common area for merging trails is near the bottom of the mountain, where many
skiers and riders have begun building up speed. When you fly over a ridge and merge onto
a new trail, there can easily be an entire group of others who didn’t see you coming. Slow
down, and look around. It will help you avoid a collision.
THE 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
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