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Female skier smiling and skiing through powder with a bright green jacket.


Ski resorts are getting pretty crowded these days, with many mountains experiencing record numbers of visitors. From the roads to the lift lines and lodges, there are a lot of people around. And wherever there are large groups of people, there are bound to be a few jerks.

The Universal Law of Jerk Averages states that the more people there are in a designated area, the higher the chances that somebody will act selfish, entitled, or outright mean. And it’s a phenomenon that only becomes more common at ski resorts. Combine traffic and lift lines with a healthy dose of powder panic, and you have yourself a recipe for jerkitude. (Ironically, in a place where everyone is there to have a good time.)

The good news is, many of these incidents of jerkitude are due to a lack of awareness rather than outright malice. And whether you’re a 6-day-a-week local or a once-a-year vacationer, everyone can use an occasional reminder on how to be a good mountain citizen. Read on to make sure your snowcial skills are up to par—before, during, and after your time on the slopes.

Don’t Get Caught Slippin’

Don’t waste your mental energy on a white-knuckle drive before a big powder day. If there’s any chance whatsoever of snowy road conditions, make sure you’ve got proper snow tires and/or traction devices on a vehicle with 4WD or AWD. Nobody wants to be the car that causes a traffic jam—or worse, a crash—because they weren’t in a capable vehicle. When in doubt, take public transportation or hitch a ride with a friend.

Use The Buddy System

As the saying goes: You’re never in traffic, you are traffic. Pulling up to the mountain with a full car instead of rolling solo takes cars off the road, which means more time shredding and less time idling. And many resorts are charging for parking these days, carpooling can help save you the cash you need for a new-to-you snowboard or pair of skis

Obey the Parking Overlords

You know those people in the high-vis jackets flailing their arms at you when you pull into the lot? They’re trying to make sure everyone gets a spot, and nobody ends up stuck in a snowbank—don’t just gun it past them and park wherever you please. On a busy day, being on the parking crew’s good side can be the difference between scoring a second-row spot and hoofing it after parking a mile down the road. 

Must Be Present to Win

Tossing your skis or board down in the lift line to save your spot for first chair while you go get a coffee is almost always frowned upon. In certain places where the locals are grumpy, it may even cause your equipment to be mysteriously relocated. If you want the glory of catching first chair, that means being prepared to stay in line until the lifties give the go-ahead.

A Skier Walks Into a Bar…

Most chairlifts have safety bars these days, though some people are used to riding without them most of the time. To avoid whacking anyone in the back of the head, make sure to give a heads-up before lowering the bar, and give people a chance to reposition themselves if it’s one of the safety bars with the built-in foot rests.

Nobody Likes Surprises

Everyone has their own pace when skiing or riding around the resort, and if somebody else’s pace is slower than yours, that’s on you to manage the situation safely. Give people plenty of room when passing, and make an effort to call out “on your right/left” when approaching from behind. People will appreciate you announcing your presence—and most of the time, they’ll do their best to give you room to pass. A little bit of patience and situational awareness goes a long way.

Don’t Be Tone Deaf

So you just got a brand-new Bluetooth speaker, and you can’t wait to share your amazing taste in music with the rest of the world, right? The only problem is that music is subjective, and other people might not appreciate those epic dubstep drops or bluegrass harmonies on the same level as you. Save the speaker for waxing sessions in your garage, and stick with the tried-and-true headphones instead. Just keep them at a volume that lets you hear other people who may be trying to get your attention. 

Skiier looking at ropes and signs announcing a ski route closure due to avalanche danger

Don’t Troll Patrol 

While it can be tempting to duck a rope or drop into closed terrain when you see untouched snow calling your name from the other side, patrollers aren’t just trying to be the Fun Police. Most of the time, terrain is closed because they’re doing avalanche control or otherwise trying to keep people safe. Besides, sometimes the rope is there because the chairlift at the bottom of the slope you’re about to drop into is closed, meaning you’ll be left with a miserable two-hour hike to get back to the parking lot (ask us how we know). 

Keep Your Boots On

Everyone’s feet hurt after the end of a long day on the mountain. That doesn’t mean you can just take your boots off in the middle of the lodge or the bar, right where people are trying to eat and drink in peace. Detaching your gaiters and loosening up your buckles or laces is totally fine. But if you’ve got more than about 5% of your socks showing, you’re pushing the limits.

Know When to Say When

Apres is an important part of the ski and snowboard culture, though there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. This hopefully goes without saying, but if you’re driving back down the mountain, make sure to party responsibly, and allow enough time/food intake/hydration to cancel out whatever adult beverages you’re bringing on board. And never hesitate to catch a ride or hop on a bus if there’s any question you’re good to drive.

Everybody is at the resort because they love sliding on snow, and everyone from wide-eyed tourists to longtime locals can coexist with the above tips in mind. And even if you’ve displayed jerkish tendencies in the past, it’s not too late to change your ways. Everybody deserves to have a good time in the mountains—and when we all look out for each other, the good times come a little easier all the way around.

TJ Parsons is a semi-reformed snowboard bum who now has a semi-adult career as a professional writer and creative. He's a self-proclaimed perpetual intermediate who thinks the outdoors are for everyone, and who wants to help dismantle gatekeeping and elitism in outdoor sports. When he's not squeezing brain juice into a keyboard, you'll find him riding boards or bikes throughout the Intermountain West.

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