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Ski Area Etiquette – How to Avoid Doing the Don’ts

by Jack McNary | January 12, 2023

Let’s face it, we’re all going to be tourists at one point or another, it’s just part of life. But if you want to avoid the dreaded Jerry designation, you’re in luck, we’ve got you covered with a couple tips that will not only reduce the chance of teenagers snickering, but they’ll also help improve your skiing experience.

Carrying your equipment

Don’t bother with gimmicks, there is a better way!

They’re long, they’re awkward, and if you’re not used to carrying them, it can be quite a task to keep all of the equipment together. Maybe add in some discarded ski boots, and you have yourself a mess-in-waiting on your hands. Fear not, because you can streamline your setup fairly easily. First, the skis – it’s not just a ‘ski bro’ thing to carry them over your shoulder! The true advantage lies in the fact that you’re taking advantage of the ski being like a lever, and by centering it on your shoulder, it helps displace the weight better. It may be a bit uncomfortable to hold at first, but no worse than the ski boots themselves! On that note – ski boots – most these days have a power strap at the top that, in addition to making sure you can flex properly in the boot, you can also strap one boot to the other, and sling it over your shoulder. If you’re feeling bold, you can even put it on the same shoulder as the skis, but otherwise it can serve as a nice counter balance. From there, you should have freed up enough room to carry poles in the hand not supporting the ski, and an additional contact point certainly won’t hurt when it’s slippery.

Riding the Chairlift

(Disclaimer: your author has snowboarded a handful of times and getting off the lift has been terrifying each time, so this next bit of advice is aimed more towards the crowd with skis on their feet).

Loading

The chairlift is a wonderful invention, and we have it to thank for the thousands of vertical feet that we are so lucky to be able to ski on our beloved mountains. But for many, it’s a stressful experience – with the chair whipping around – and who hasn’t gotten thwacked in the back of their calves at least once or twice? Fortunately, you can avoid most of that by simply paying attention when you’re loading the lift. The rest of the lift queue is a good chance to recover, zone out or perhaps ball up your fingers in your gloves to warm them up when they are frozen. But when you complete the typical turn that leads to getting on the lift, make darn sure that your eyes are focused on the prize!  After that, the next best thing you can do is turn your head and look at the chair while you’re waiting to load. For the ones that swing around fast, it can be helpful to place your hand near the chair and use it to either brace against the chair, or grab the bars on the seatback to get yourself more secure.

During

For many of us, the fear may not come while getting on/off the chair, but rather, during the lift ride itself, which is understandable given some of them are as high as 100 feet in the air. Thank goodness most chairlifts these days have a bar you can lower, and if you’re feeling fear, lower that sucker! The most crucial thing to remember here is that your fellow passengers may not be aware of your desire to lower the bar, and thus it is always a great idea to “hey guys, lowering the bar” or something of that extent. Those that aren’t expecting it will thank you (or maybe not grumble at you) for not smacking it back down on the top of your head.

Unloading

Dismounting the chairlift can also be a hectic experience, particularly if there is a steep hill after the lift. Aside from keeping your ski tips up so they don’t dig into the snow and cause you to plant your face into the dismount area, you want to make sure that you have a plan for getting off the chairlift. Usually, this is as simple as ‘do I go right or left’ but the indecision can lead to some confusion in front of the, particularly if you’re riding with strangers, and you’re not sure which way they’re going. You can always say ‘hey guys, I’m going to the left’ which should, but not always, avoid any mishaps. The other thing you might want to keep in mind, and this is more the case for fixed grip chairs that swing around quickly at the end, but you can also use your hand to push off the chair a little bit, and give you that extra bit of momentum to avoid getting nailed in the back.

Aesthetics

A perfect fit!

Look, seeing someone in a Dallas Cowboys starter jacket and jeans is not something that’s a fair topic to poke fun at. Skiing is expensive, and it’s not like those clothes aren’t doing the job of keeping you warm. What you’ve got to ski in, you’ve got to ski in. But what you can control is the goggles dangling off the back of your helmet. We’re not telling you how to live your life here, but they should rest nicely on the top of the helmet, and not be swinging around like some sort of mutant ponytail. Ultimately, if it’s the look you’re going for, you do you, as long as you’re having fun!

Regardless of if you found these tips helpful or not, be sure to check with us first for the best deals on tickets, lodging and gear!

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