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More mountain manners, please

Alex Miller

It was with dismay that I watched the young man kick his ski boots onto the seat of the gondola at Breckenridge and lean back, relaxed.

“Get your boots off of there!” I said, for this was my 16-year-old son.

He looked at me as if I’d just asked him to calculate the circumference of the gondola car.



“What? Why? Everybody does it.”

My least favorite response, perhaps, of all time. We were trying to spend some quality time together, so I shortened the lecture to a simple reminder that he would not like to sit on a wet, muddy seat himself, and that by putting his feet up on the seat, he was preparing it to be just so for the next occupant.



It was a minor but telling incident about how civility on the hill is at something of a low ebb. Loutish behavior runs the gamut from snowboarders plopping down right in the lift unloading area to buckle their bindings to the unfortunate incident at Arrowhead last year that culminated in a verbal attack on a young boy and an ugly lawsuit.

In between, we see all manner of poor mountain manners, and it’s not just restricted to the younger shredding class. On a busy day, even the most senior members of the world community are not above ignoring the “Please alternate” rules in the lift line, cussing like sailors at those they feel have wronged them or simply ignoring the basic rules of manners one would hope are present in all of us.

Or are they? As the example with my son shows, even someone I know for a fact is being raised in a home with a strong manners mandate is capable of the decision to jettison such in the public realm of the ski area. And while I’m pretty sure my son’s boorishness doesn’t extend to personal interaction with strangers (he really is a pretty polite kid most of the time), there’s a lot of unfortunate stuff going on up there on the hill. On the newsroom scanner just the other day, we heard of an altercation at the top of Chair 6 in Vail with “drunk and belligerent” parties. And this was at 1 p.m.



One thing that really gets me going is when I’m on the hill with my kindergartner and find myself adjacent to young men and women casually dropping F-bombs. I grew up no stranger to this word, but I recall the unwritten rule that you don’t cuss around little kids. Where, I wonder, did that sensibility go? And what do you do about it? I’m pretty sure chastising the punks would only make the situation worse, so I generally just try to glare at them and move away.

Compared to many public places ” the world’s airports, bus stations, soccer stadiums and cockfighting rings ” our ski resorts are pretty tame. Even so, it’s all relative, and what may be business-as-usual on a New York City subway can look pretty awful on the slopes of Beaver Creek or Vail. It’s also fair to say there’s an incentive for the resorts to keep an eye on this kind of behavior and nip it in the bud whenever possible. It takes only a few taps of the computer keys for that couple from Ft. Lauderdale to change their reservation to Park City because of the punk who knocked their kid over in Colorado the previous year.

Alex Miller is responsible for the editorial oversight of the Vail Daily, Eagle Valley Enterprise and Vail Trail. He can be reached at 748-2920, or editor@vaildaily.com.


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