Skiing Etiquette: The Dos and Don’ts of Skiing Aspen/Snowmass (and probably everywhere else in the world) |

Skiing Etiquette: The Dos and Don’ts of Skiing Aspen/Snowmass (and probably everywhere else in the world)

by Barbara Platts
Newbie skier stuck in deep snow with his legs upside down
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

NOTICE POSTED by the board of Ski Bums Who Want Visitors to Ride More Like Locals:

Spring is nearly here, which means increased crowds on many of our favorite slopes in Aspen and Snowmass. With the warm weather, longer days and tendency toward slope-side al fresco imbibing, we would like to present a few rules/recommendations/suggestions/warnings for all those strapped to a pair of skis or a snowboard. We have taken it upon ourselves to inform the uninformed on what each of you are doing wrong when you ski close to us.

Who are we? Well, we’re a board of concerned and incredibly skilled skiers who are out on the mountain(s) everyday. This is our home. You may come to visit and think you’re the coolest thing on the mountain, but we are here all season, on slushy days, powder days, stormy days, sunny days and even Mondays. On the list of our life priorities, skiing ranks at the top, before family, friends, occupation and basic hygiene.

We love our mountains and feel a sense of ownership over them (except Buttermilk, you all can have that one). Because of this, we offer these rules/recommendations/suggestions/warnings to help you feel at home in our awesome presence. And so you aren’t alarmed if we yell and/or bark loudly at you if and when you do something stupid.

The Do Nots

• Do not try to ski any slope on Ajax if you think you are a beginner or even an intermediate. This mountain is for expert downhillers. The same goes for Highland Bowl and most every run on Snowmass that takes three lifts or a hike to access. We’ve seen you out on expert terrain before, and, trust us, you stick out like a fur coat at Zane’s Tavern.

• Do not insist on riding up with others in the gondola when there’s no line at the bottom. Us locals consider our time on the gondola sacred, and we would rather enjoy it with friends, sans strangers, if we have the option. This may sound persnickety, but it’s just the way we are. On that same note, do not smoke cigarettes in the gondola. This stinks it up for several rides. In that same vein, do not defecate (you know who you are) in the gondola. Save it for the dance floor at Bootsy Bellows, please.

• Do not use busy slopes or congested catwalks to practice your zig-zag turns. The skier going first has the right of way, but making impromptu moves that span the whole slope endangers those behind you who are probably trying to get by. Places like the bottom of Spar Gulch are simply not half pipes. Sure, it would be lovely if they were, but the fact of the matter is there are too many people for that.

This does not mean you have to straight-line all the way to Kleenex Corner, but do try to be conscientious about your movements. You aren’t the only skier on the mountain.

• Do not make sudden stops on the slope, especially in busy areas. Everyone around you is getting into a groove and unexpected stops can mean possible pile-ups. If it’s an emergency, then, by all means, halt. But if you just feel like taking a break or you need to answer your phone, pull over to the side of the slope away from traffic. This same rule/recommendation/suggestion/warning applies for those who need to make a phone call, those who want to pause to socialize and those who are waiting for their ski buddies to catch up.

• Do not carry around a large selfie-stick with a GoPro camera attached to the end of it. Firstly, it just looks silly, and it screams tourist. Secondly, it’s a distraction from what’s going on around you, which are other skiers trying to pass your self-absorbed ass. We get it, you’re on the mountain, enjoying the beautiful day, and you want to post a video to Facebook to show the world all of your mad ski skills. But, with a GoPro in hand, you’re simply never going to be the best skier or snowboarder on the mountain. Sorry, bro.

The Dos

• Do go to Buttermilk, especially if you are just learning the ropes. It’s a fun mountain that’s ideal for beginners. Plus, we won’t be there to yell and/or bark at you if you do something wrong.

• Do après early and often.

• Do eliminate the gap between your goggles and your helmet/hat (cough…gaper…cough).

• Do stay true to your own ability and find terrain that you can handle. Challenging yourself is important, but taking on a black diamond when you’ve barely made it smoothly down a green circle is no bueno.

• Do enjoy yourself. Remember, skiing and snowboarding are supposed to be fun! It’s not a competition (well certainly not a close one, anyway) so get out there, relax and have a good time.

Please take note of all the rules/recommendations/suggestions/warnings above. We, the die-hard skiers of Aspen and Snowmass, offer these to help you have a good time, stay safe and get out of our way. Thank you, and happy skiing!

Barbara Platts puts skiing powder before a bath/shower any day of the week. It’s all about priorities. Reach her at

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