Staying safe on piste is hugely important, not just for yourself, but also for your fellow slope users. Adhering to the local rules, respecting the conditions and taking note of the terrain around you are great places to start.

In addition, the International Ski Federation (FIS) has developed ‘Rules of Conduct’ that apply to all who use the pistes ‚Äď regardless of what equipment they’re using. This ‘highway code’ for the snow helps everyone to stay safe on the slopes, and should be followed at all times.

1. Respect for others

A ski­er or snow­board­er must be­have in such a way that he or she does not en­dan­ger or prej­u­dice others.

2. Con­trol of speed and ski­ing or snow­board­ing

Ev­ery ski­er or snow­board­er must move in con­trol. He must adapt the speed and man­n­er of ski­ing or snow­board­ing to his per­so­n­al abil­i­ty and to the pre­vail­ing con­di­tions of ter­rain, snow and weather as well as to the den­si­ty of traff­ic.

3. Choice of route

A ski­er or snow­board­er com­ing from be­hind must choose his route in such a way not to en­dan­ger skiers or snow­board­ers ahead

4. Overtaking

A ski­er or snow­board­er may over­take another ski­er or snow­board­er above or be­low and to the right or to the left pro­vid­ed that he leaves enough space for the over­tak­en ski­er or snow­board­er to make any vol­un­tary or in­vol­un­tary move­ment.

5. En­ter­ing, start­ing and mov­ing up­wards

A skier or snowboarder en­ter­ing a marked run, start­ing again af­ter stop­ping or mov­ing up­wards on the slopes must look up and down the slopes that he can do so without en­dan­gering himself or others.

6. Stopping

Un­less ab­so­lute­ly ne­ces­sary, a skier or snow­board­er must avoid stop­ping on the piste in nar­row places or where vis­i­bil­i­ty is re­strict­ed. After a fall in such a place, a skier or snowboarder must move and clear the slope as soon as pos­si­ble.

7. Climb­ing and de­s­cend­ing on foot 

A ski­er or snow­board­er ei­ther climb­ing or de­s­cend­ing on foot must keep to the side of the slope.

8. Re­spect for signs and markings

Skiers and snow­board­ers must re­spect all signs and mark­ings.

9. Assistance

At accidents, ev­ery ski­er or snow­board­er is du­ty bound to as­sist.

10. Identification

Every skier or snowboarder and witness, whether a responsible party or not, must exchange names and ad­dress­es following an accident.

Surface lifts:

As their name implies, these lifts take you uphill on the surface of the snow and aren’t too long. Magic carpets are usually found in beginner areas and are like the travelators found in long airport corridors, they are slow moving and easy to get on and off, making them easy for those just starting. Drag or Poma lifts and T-Bars can be found in most resorts and are a little tougher to use, especially for snowboarders, as they require you to balance and keep your edges from catching.

Chairlifts:

These are lifts that you sit on, without removing your skis or boards, and they travel above the ground at a faster speed than surface lifts. Older lifts can be a little tricky to get on and off as they don’t slow down at each end. More modern lifts either have a rolling carpet to help you get on or the chair detaches from the cable to slow down at the bottom. Some lifts even have heated seats, wifi and weather covers for added comfort. They range in size from old 1-seaters (common in Japan) to fast new 8-seaters.

Gondolas or Cable Cars:

These require you to remove your skis or board and can transport large numbers of skiers up the mountain quickly. Like chairlifts they range in size and efficiency, some resorts still have older 2-man yoghurt pots and others have double-decker trams capable of carrying over 200 people.

Funiculars:

Funiculars are mountain railways that are capable of climbing steep gradients, usually using two trams in counterweight to each other. Most can carry several hundred passengers up and down the mountain. Many travel from resort level up to the top of the mountain through tunnels to protect them from snow and ice.

Assisting in case of an accident

  • Secure the accident area
  • Protect with crossed skis or planted snowboard above the injured person. If necessary post someone up the slope to give warning

First Aid

  • Airway ‚Äď check it is clear
  • Breathing ‚Äď check for breathing
  • Circulation ‚Äď cover any wound and apply firm pressure
  • Provide warmth ‚Äď give nothing to eat or drink, especially alcohol

Alert the rescue services

  • Contact the resort’s emergency service ‚Äď the telephone number is normally on the piste map
  • Place of accident (piste name and nearest piste marker)
  • Number of people injured
  • Type of injury

Establish the facts of the accident

  • Names and addresses of people involved as well as witnesses
  • Place, time and circumstances of accident
  • Terrain, snow conditions and visibility
  • Markings and signs
  • Report to the police as soon as possible

Summary

In order to stay safe on the mountain, remember the following key points:

  • Ski and ride within the FIS Code of Conduct at all times
  • In the event of an accident you should help assist at the scene
  • This can include calling for emergency assistance or directing skiers to avoid the scene

Ross Woodhall

Still got questions?

For more tips and tricks for staying safe on the mountain, reach out to the Ski Club’s expert Info & Advice team.