Vail Valley: A snowsports code refresher |

Vail Valley: A snowsports code refresher

Dr. Drew Werner
Dear Doc
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – Life is a dangerous sport, but with a bit of common sense, a dash of wisdom and a sprinkling of technology, it can be a whole lot safer.

Back in 1966 the National Ski Areas Association established “Your Responsibility Code.” It was then, and remains today a fundamental code of ethics for all skiers and riders on the mountain. Here it is. I hope we can all learn it and follow it well!

Skiers and snowboarders responsibility code

• Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid objects.

• People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.

• Do not stop where you obstruct the trail or are not visible from above.

• Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, yield to others.

• Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.

• Observe all posted signs and warnings.

• Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.

• Prior to using any lift, you must know how to load, ride and unload safely.

The code is actually Colorado law! It is simple and straightforward. If we all follow it, we’ll all have a great day on the mountain, and be ready for our next run.

Other smart practices include:

• Wear a helmet that fits properly. Any of our ski shops or instructors can help you find the right one or check your fit.

• If you’re snowboarding, wrist guards will make sure a fracture doesn’t end your season early. Snowboarding is the number one cause of winter wrist fractures.

• Layer your clothes for warmth and don’t wear cotton, which looses its warmth when wet.

• If you’re cold, stop to warm up. You will enjoy the day more and be less likely to become injured or frostbitten.

• Skiers should have their bindings checked out by a qualified person every season; riders should tighten their bolts. A good tune and periodic base grinds will keep your equipment at its best.

• Alcohol or drugs and skiing or riding don’t ever mix.

• Wear sun block even on cloudy days and reapply every two to three hours.

• Don’t go into backcountry without training and proper equipment – a beacon, avalanche probe and shovel. The beauty of the backcountry may mask danger to the unaware and unprepared.

• If you need help, look for ski patrol, an instructor or find a mountain phone (look for red signs, they are all over). In Vail dial 1111, in Beaver Creek dial 5111.

After you have memorized the code, it is time to get ready. As with any exertional activity, drink plenty of fluids. Stop and rest when you need to. Remind your out of state visitors, friends and gueststo avoid exertion for the first 24 hours up at altitude. Drinking lots of water and avoiding alcohol and caffeine for the first day or two also helps prevent high altitude sickness.

With snow at our doorsteps and more on the way there is no better time to get outdoors and to the slopes, just remember to know the code!

Dr. Drew Werner is the vice chief of staff at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs and the Eagle County Health Officer. He lives in Eagle with his family. E-mail comments about this column to

Support Local Journalism

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User