Snowboarding Etiquette 101

Snowboarding Etiquette 101: A Guide to Respectful Riding!

by Fraser

Ah, the slopes – nature’s playground and the wild west of winter sports. Now hold up, partner! 

Just like you can’t tear down the highway without a license, you can’t just dive into snowboarding without knowing a thing or two about, you guessed it – snowboarding etiquette

That’s right, shredders: rules exist on the mountain, too. Sorry! 

But these rules are more about good vibes and less about traffic jams and keeping your hands at ten and two.

So grab a cup of hot cocoa (or something slightly stronger, you rascal), and let’s dive into some snow-sprayed, totally tubular wisdom in our guide to snowboarding etiquette. 

1. Yield to the Downhill Rider

This is perhaps the golden rule. Whoever’s downhill has the right-of-way. It’s simple: they can’t see you, but you can see them. Always approach with caution and give them space to make their moves.

2. Strap In, Wisely

We’ve all been there – fumbling with bindings and gear. However, try to strap in away from the main flow of traffic, ideally on the side of the run. Blocking paths or exits isn’t just inconsiderate, it’s unsafe.

3. Look Before You Leap

Whether you’re jumping off a kicker or just traversing to another slope, always look uphill to ensure you’re not cutting someone off or jumping into someone’s path. A quick glance can save both you and another snowboarder from an unpleasant collision.

snowboarding etiquette jumping-2

4. Ditch the Soundtrack (Sometimes)

I get it, blasting your favorite tunes while shredding the mountain feels epic. However, music can block out essential sounds – like someone warning you about a potential hazard.

If you must, keep the volume at a level where you can still hear what’s happening around you.

5. Respect the Terrain Park Code

The terrain park is a haven for tricks and jumps, but there’s an etiquette to follow. Wait your turn, clear the landing zone quickly, and if you’re new, start small. It’s not just polite, it’s for everyone’s safety.

6. Be Mindful in the Lift Queue

Everyone’s eager to get up the mountain, but skipping the line or pushing ahead isn’t cool. Wait patiently, and when you’re next, be ready. That means having your pass visible and your board in the right position.

7. Know Your Limits

It’s awesome to push your boundaries, but know your limits. Tackling a slope that’s beyond your skill level isn’t just dangerous for you, but for others around you. There’s no shame in starting small and working your way up.

snowboarding tips for the slopes

8. Lend a Helping Hand

Snowboarding is a community. If you see someone who’s lost a glove, dropped a pole, or simply struggling to get up, lend a helping hand. It’s the camaraderie that makes this sport truly special.

9. Apologize If You Mess Up

We all make mistakes. If you accidentally cut someone off or cause a collision, a simple “sorry” goes a long way. It’s not just about snowboarding etiquette, it’s about being a decent human being.

respecting the slopes - snowboard and ski etiquette-2

10. Leave No Trace

This should go without saying, but always clean up after yourself. Whether it’s a discarded snack wrapper or an old lift ticket, make sure you pack out what you brought in. Our slopes are beautiful – let’s keep them that way.

Full Snowboarding Etiquette Guide

Alrighty then. You’ve had the teasers. But if you want all the juicy details on ski and snowboard etiquette, you need to keep reading. 

But if I’ve already used up your precious attention span, you might want to check out this season’s best snowboards instead. Your  choice!

Right of Way On The Mountain

Much like a game of human Frogger, knowing when to go and when to hold back is the key to avoiding crashes. 

I already discussed this in my guide to right-of-way, but here are the highlights. 

Rule 1: Downhill Rider's Have Right of Way

When there’s someone below you, remember: they’re the boss. Give them space, no matter how erratic and frustrating their turns are. 

Respect their line, and remember: our goal is to prevent the mountain from becoming a snow-spangled demolition derby. Patience is key!

Rule 2: Watch Your Six (and Your Twelve!)

Yeah, yeah, we get it; like a hawk, you’ve got your sights locked on what’s ahead. But let’s not forget the riders behind you. You can’t rely on every rider sticking to rule #1!

Call it good karma, call it being a rad shredder, or call it “not ending up in a collision sandwich,” – but always be aware of fellow riders on all sides. 

Rule 3: Don't Be The Stop-and-Go Guy (or gal)

Look, we all need a breather now and then. But when that magical moment comes, pull off to the side where you can pant like a dog in safety.

Taking a break in the middle of the run will not only show off your reckless abandon but also guarantee that your new nickname being Jerry or Gaper

Rule 4: Never Snake a Line!

Evil, sneaky, and downright wrong, snaking a line is like zipping around traffic to the front of an exit. Don’t do it!

Legit mountain folk will frown upon such behavior, and you’ll probably end up with a lot of death glares. Patience, my shredding friend.

Seeing the Signs (and Following Them!)

Time to decode those oh-so-majestic snowboard signs. You know, the ones that stand tall, dishing out mysterious guidance?

Well, buckle up (not literally, we’re not in our bindings yet) because we’re going on a wild ride through sign language. 

Once you know the signs, snowboarding etiquette becomes a darn sight easier. You’ll no longer be venturing onto the wrong runs, or flying through a “slow-speed” zone. 

Trail Colors: Follow the Rainbow

Trail signs come in different colors, so before you send it, it’s good to know what you’re facing on the mountain. We don’t want you flying off a cliff… or do we? (only if it’s intentional!) 

So hold onto your board, and let’s break it down.

  • Green circles 🟢: Congrats, you’ve found the bunny hill! Green means go, so for all the newbies or even riders looking for a mellow day, this is your jam.
  • Blue squares 🟦: Gear up for the intermediate life, folks! Blue is for you cruisy shredders who’ve mastered the bunny slope and want to up your game. More carves, more challenges.
In Europe the signs are circular. They run green, blue, red, black.
  • Black diamonds: Ooh la la! You’ve made it into the big leagues. Black diamond runs are for advanced riders who crave steep slopes and massive moguls. These are riskier, faster but often less busy. 
  • Double black diamonds: Double trouble. These runs are for expert riders only, so saddle up at your own risk. These slopes are steep, icy and often come with exposure. The real definition of shredding the gnar.

Other Signs - Reading is Fun(damental)

Between all that uphill trekking and cocoa-sipping, you might stumble across some other signs on the mountain.

Let’s check ’em out:

  • Slow signs: Heed these wise, yellow canaries my friends. The slow sign knows what’s up. Throw on the brakes because busy areas and merge zones lie ahead. 
  • Terrain park signs: Welcome to the park rat’s playground! You’ll see specific signs for terrain parks, letting you know to expect jumps, rails, and all things gnarly. There will usually also be small to XL jump signs, or beginner to advanced features.
  • Boundary signs: Rowdy riders, beware! These signs mark the limits of a resort’s boundary. Throw it in reverse and steer clear, ’cause we don’t want you going off-the-grid like some kind of snowboarding Sasquatch. 

Seriously, only adventure into the great unknown (the backcountry) if you’re prepared and know the area well. 

Let’s not have a chairlift named after you (too dark?).

The Art of Queueing

Time to tackle the part of snowboarding that we all kinda dread… The Queue. The Line. The Oodles-of-wait.

Let’s dive into the art of queueing! 

ski lift queue etiquette

Queueing for the lift can feel like watching a snowman melt – slow, gloomy, and cold. 

But don’t worry; we’ve got a few nuggets of wisdom to keep your spirits high and your patience intact (or at least keep you sane until the chairlift arrives).

1. Embrace the Chill-ness

Look, we all queue. Pros queue. Queens queue. Heck, even Yetis probably queue. It’s as much a rite of passage as that first epic wipeout.

Take a deep breath of mountain air, let the cold tingle your nostrils, and – hold up – is that the sweet aroma of freedom… with a hint of pine, perhaps?

2. Maintain Personal Space

I try to avoid going after our two-planked compadres, but I’m sick of skiers scraping their rentals over my brand new board!

Watching my edges dent and my topsheet scratch is like torture. With this in mind, keep an eye on your feet. Avoid scraping your gear on anyone else’s. 

3. Be Kind to Newcomers

Chairlifts can be super daunting for newbies. So can lift queues. 

Try not to rush them or invade their space. If it feels appropriate, maybe even offer a little advice. 

4. Talk Away The Silence

Got a rad story about that time you totally ate it on a blue run? Share it with your fellow line-dwellers!

Not into making conversation? How about complimenting someone’s cool park deck. You’d be surprised how quickly the line moves when you’re engaged. 

5. Take Time to Tune In

Fill your ears with the shredding playlist of choice. Could be some lo-fi mellow vibes, the pounding pulse of electronic dance, or maybe some Mongolian throat singing (we’re not here to judge, my groovy lift-line amigo).

6. Be Patient

Remember, we’re all in this together. Snowboarders united in this feat of endurance, waiting for the noble chairlift to deliver another epic run.

Stay Zen, my friends!

Wipeout Wisdom:
It's Not if You Fall, but How

Wipeout Wisdom: It's Not If You Fall, but How

Let’s face it – no matter how rad you are, wipeouts are inevitable. The laws of the mountain dictate that you will eat snow at some point.

But snowboarding etiquette dictates that you avoid collateral damage wherever possible!

But enough of the doom and gloom (besides, snow tastes delicious, right?!) – it’s time to focus on the real trick: falling and getting back up with style, and most importantly, not turning the slopes into a snowball apocalypse.

1. Relax

First thing first: when you take a tumble, always try to fall “gently” (easier said than done). 

Picture yourself as a sack of potatoes: you want to be a chilled, mashed-potato-ey kinda sack, not an angry, frozen one. 

Flailing like a possessed windmill might look hilarious (and provide some epic footage), but it’s a one-way ticket to broken-bone town. Instead, relax your body, bend your arms slightly, and tuck that chin in to avoid unnecessary carnage. 

Our mountain friends will thank you, as will your neck!

2. Get Back Up - Carefully!

Now, if you’ve come to a full-on stop (hopefully without taking out any bystanders), it’s time to get back up.

We know you want to show that you’re a lightning-fast rebounder, but easy there, ninja. 

When you’re struggling to regain balance, make sure you’ve glanced uphill. Check whether anyone that might be cruising into your crash zone and plan a route away from potential danger. 

3. Don't Block the Trail

It’s like stopping in the middle of the freeway for a quick picnic – never a good idea. If you’re in the middle of the run, move to the side before you attempt your elegant, totally-planned recovery.

Give your fellow shredders some room to cruise, and they’ll be more likely to give you a high-five instead of an accidental collision.

snowboarders blocking the trail (bad snowboarding etiquette)

4. Accept Your Fate

Remember, it’s not about avoiding wipeouts altogether (although that’d be pretty sweet); it’s about mastering the fine art of eating snow without creating chaos. 

And who knows? Your crash and burn might just get you nominated for some “best wipeout” award! Now, if that’s not incentive to hone your wipeout wisdom, I don’t know what is.

Gnarly Chairlift Manners

So, you’ve aced the wipeout wisdom. Congrats, you’re officially not a danger to yourself or others (mostly).

Now onto another Herculean challenge: mastering the art of chairlift etiquette, or as we like to call it, “how not to make enemies at 2,000 feet”. 

Let’s break it down, slopestyle!

chairlift etiquette

Ever played musical chairs as a kid? 

Imagine that, but now you’re in bulky gear, gliding toward a metal seat suspended in mid-air (alongside a couple of strangers).

If this sounds like fun, you’re either an adrenaline junkie or slightly misguided, but either way, I got you!

1. Timing Is Everything

Be quick about it. Just like you wouldn’t take a nap at a highway toll booth, you can’t saunter onto the chairlift like it’s a red carpet at an award show.

Once that chair is under your backside, sit!

2. Communicate with Your Neighbours

To avoid sitting in someone’s lap, communicate, coordinate, and distribute that weight evenly.

Yeah, I know, ‘communication’ doesn’t sound very rock and roll, but neither does tumbling to the ground because you all leaned the same way.

3. Put The Safety Bar Down

For some reason, it’s become fashionable to ride with the safety bar up. Only in America of course – in Europe they’re apparently more sensible. 

Don’t succumb to peer pressure. Check with the gang and then lower that bar. Newbies might be too afraid to ask, and forced to sit there terrified. 

Snowboarding etiquette 101: look after the newbies!

chairlift etiquette (skiing and snowboarding)

4. Nail The Dismount

Once you see that magical disembark sign, it’s ‘go’ time. Now lift that snowboard up, stay vigilant, and disembark like you’ve been doing it all your life. 

Spoiler: you’ll probably goof it up the first few times, but hey, even the greats took a few faceplants before they honed their craft. Just make sure not to endanger your fellow lift-riders.

5. Appreciate The Mountain Crew

And finally, always – always – give a shout out to the liftie. 

Those folks are the unsung heroes of the mountain. A quick wave, a nod, a simple “how’s it going” can work wonders. Remember, a little chairlift courtesy goes a long way in keeping things chill.

After The Slopes

Now we’ve conquered a day on the slopes decoding signs, practicing Zen queueing, and avoiding right-of-way catastrophes, it’s time to dive into the after-party. 

Yup, we’re talking about an exclusive peek into after-hours mountain life. Yep, there’s proper snowboard etiquette here too!

1. Chilling at the Lodge

Once the boots come off and the sun bids farewell, it’s time to swap the sweaty marino layers for a comfy snowboard hoodie. But be mindful of your manners here too!

  • Avoid Offensive Odors: Your boots do a remarkable job of keeping in the heat. But that’s not all they’re locking in! When removing your gear, be mindful of where you’re leaving it. You can also follow my guide for smelly snowboard boots
  • Respect the Quiet Zones: I know what you’re thinking – lame! However, many lodges and resorts have designated quiet zones for those looking to relax. Especially if the next morning is going to be an epic powder day!
  • Tip Generously: Obviously only if you can afford to. Many resort workers rely on tips. Whether it’s the staff at the restaurant, the shuttle driver, or the room service personnel, always tip for good service. It’s a small gesture that goes a long way.

2. The Parking Palaver

Now comes the second grand adventure of the day: playing Tetris in the car park. Whoever designed these places must’ve been really into mazes.

Everyone’s vying for a spot closer to the exit, and you’ve got to pit your wits and cold-numbed steering skills against the rest.

Park Like a Pro

No one enjoys the shimmy and shuffle of trying to squeeze into a parking spot that would challenge a unicycle – least of all, your fellow snow-seekers! Mind your manners, and don’t lob your vehicle into a spot better suited to a Mini Cooper than your diesel-guzzling mountain-mobile.

car parking etiquette in the mountains
Have an Exit Strategy

Is there anything worse than being the guy stuck in the third row, sandwiched between the giant pickup and the snow-covered camper? 

No, not really. So plot your exit strategy early. Your cozy couch awaits!

Patience, Padawan

Just like with queueing for the chairlift, patience is the secret ingredient to acing the parking fiasco. Remember: screams of frustration are not festive soundtracks!

Final Thoughts

In essence, snowboarding etiquette is about mindfulness and respect. It’s about understanding that we share the mountain and that every rider deserves the same awesome experience.

As I carve my way down slopes, I’m reminded of why I love this sport – and a big part of that love is the community.

So, strap in, respect the code, and let’s make the mountains a better place for all!

Until next time, Peace out! 

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