Photos by Austen Diamond

"Know the code" is an important phrase when taking on a new sport. When it comes to the mountains, whether you’re a seasoned skier or just getting started, it’s always good to have a refresher on proper etiquette. Here are five things to keep in mind as you gear up for the upcoming winter season at Salt Lake's four resorts.


Downhill skier has the right-of-way

One of the most commonly known rules-of-thumb for skiing is downhill skier has the right-of-way. It goes without saying that we don’t have eyes in the back of our heads. Regardless of the speed you’re going, give lots of space to the people downhill of you–especially children and novice skiers as their turns can be abrupt or unpredictable. If you’re on a narrow cat-track and trying to pass someone, let your presence be known with a kind “on your left” vocal as you pass. Another way to notify that you’re passing is the friendly ski pole tap making others aware of your location. Don’t be a Gwyneth and find yourself in a lawsuit arguing over who had the right-of-way.

Two skiers on a narrow run

Stay in control and know your limits

Snowbird Resort has a harrowing, yet impactful marketing a-frame with an imprint of a child’s vacant snow-angel in the snow; the copy reads, “She was 5. You were doing 50.” This chilling message is a harsh reminder to stay in control. We’re all on the mountain to have fun and the last thing you want is an accident inflicting injury, or worse, upon yourself or others. This message goes both ways. If you’re a novice skier, stay off the black trails: it’s not only dangerous for you, but also for the advanced skiers who might be hucking a cliff not expecting a novice skier below. It’s good to challenge yourself, and try new things, but trust your instincts and stick to areas where you feel in control. A reminder of trail signs: green circle = beginner, blue square = intermediate, black diamond = advanced, double black diamond = expert. Another thing to keep in mind: Utah is not only home to the Greatest Snow on Earth™, but home to some steep slopes. A blue trail in Utah might be what a black trail looks like at your home mountain, so exercise caution to start.

Crossed ski poles indicating "Slow Down"

Know what to do if you see ski poles in an “X”

If you randomly see some ski poles sticking up and making a letter “X”, those were placed there purposely by ski patrol. Either a person below them is injured, or there is an obstacle, like a rock, to avoid. Be sure to give lots of space as you go around. Let’s face it, falls happen when you’re skiing. Usually they’re playful and you can pop right back up. However, either way, if you see someone fall, embody the genuine Salt Lake way and check in on your fellow skiers and riders. On the slopes, we’re all friends (except perhaps on a powder day).

Skiers on the ski lift

Chairlift etiquette

We’ve all seen the memes of lines for days, or overcrowded slopes that are happening with the growing popularity of this sport. Which goes to say, there’s nothing more annoying than when you’re in a long line and see chairlifts not fully loaded. Typically the resorts are great about having an employee orchestrate this to help alleviate long lines, but if no one is there, ask around you and make sure you fill your chair. On the flip side, if there are short or no lines, get selfish, take your own chair—no need to crowd others. Another pro tip, many snowboarders prefer the outside seat of the chairlift based on how their board hangs and for exiting the lift. Although not required, it’s nice to offer a boarder the outside seat.

Skiers on the slope

Most importantly, have fun

Yes, there is some etiquette when it comes to skiing, but really the most important rule is to have fun! Skiing is a privilege, a delight, and meant to be a fantastic time. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh, keep an open-mind, and spread kindness to everyone around you. Bring your “good vibes only” to the slopes. Take the time to marvel at the mountains, play in the snow, and enjoy the company around you.

Have other skiing questions? Worried about altitude sickness? Curious about transportation to the resorts? Looking for a way to ski all four of Salt Lake’s resorts at a discounted rate? We got you covered.

With four incredible resorts only 30 min from the city, come experience the vibrancy of Salt Lake and start planning your dream ski vacation today!