Lift line etiquette is pretty easy. The first rule of thumb is BE POLITE.
You should take the same tone of manners that you would at a very fancy restaurant.
You should be courteous at the mouth of line by making an instant decision:
Am I ready to get on the lift, or do I need to wait? If you are ready, take
your place at the end of the lift line and move along with it. If you need
to wait for someone, find a place out of the way of the lift line. The bottom
of the ski run and the entrance to the lift line are all about flow. If you're
standing anywhere close to the mouth of the lift line, or in it, (but not
moving with the line), you are in the way and disrupting flow. This is impolite.
Give the people who are ready to get on the lift a wide berth to enter the
line. Allow them to go ahead of you; and definitely don't wait for someone
within the corrals of the line.
Once you have made the decision to enter the line, again, be courteous.
Whether the line is short or long, be considerate by moving at the pace of
the line. Don't try to cut, don't duck under any lines (only occasionally
is this acceptable), don't try to move faster than the person in front of
you and please, please don't touch your skis to anyone else's skis. The skis
are an extension of the body. Touching your skis to someone else's skis is
rude. In fact, don't let the tips of your skis pass beyond the tails of the
person 's skis in front of you. Be in control of your equipment. If there
is no resort employee to militarize the lift lines, use good judgment. Just
like in auto traffic, use the zipper technique: this side goes then the other
side goes. Alternate. It's better form to be polite than to fight your way
onto the lift (like they do in Europe).
If the lines are huge, you'll need to be ready. The key in large lines is
to load the maximum number of people on each chair. It's good form to ask
singles to join you, and can often result in wonderful conversation. This
is especially so when mixing opposite sexes.
Follow the directions of the "lift line Nazi" if there is one present; the
resort put him or her there for very good reasons. Move briskly when called
for, and don't pull any funny stuff. Many times, the lift line Nazi is under
a lot of stress trying to control a bunch people who are spending giant sums
of money to have fun. People get anxious in lift lines. Take the stress out
for everyone by doing your part. Short, friendly comments to the lift line
Nazi will lighten the situation every time. Thank-yous are always good.
If the lines are very small (like no one is waiting in the line), you can
try to garner a "private chair." You may just get lucky, but if at the last
second someone attempts to ride along, politely ask if you could have the
chair to yourselves. Most times people will let you, but it's at their discretion;
again, conversation is nice with extra people. On four and six-pack chairlifts,
private chairs for the two or three people in your party are a true luxury;
but never try to gain a private chair if there are people waiting in line.
It's simply rude. The need is to move people up the mountain-not cater to
your whims (that's what your ski run is for).
One of the few exceptions to moving through lift lines is if you are a "single."
This means you are by yourself-it's bad form to pretend you're by yourself
when you're actually skiing with someone else. When you are truly single,
you may enter the singles line if there is one, or you may move through the
line with everyone else. The best way to do this is to look for someone you
would be interested to ride with. Attractive members of the opposite sex (or
same sex, if you're into it) are fair game. You can politely ask, "Do you
have room for another?" or "Can I ride with you?" If no one rings your bell
in the line, you can bend the rules a little bit to get on the lift a little
faster. Once you get close to the take-off point and see a party with an open
spot, you can say something to the people in front of you like, "I'm a single;
would you mind if I slip through here to ride with those people?" If the people
are polite, they should let you through; they should also be interested in
lift line flow and moving the maximum number of people up the mountain.
Once aboard, don't even consider dropping the safety bar/footrest without
first gaining the approval of everyone on the chair (unless you're in Vermont,
in which case, it's the law). I personally hate lift bars/foot rests. At Park
City Mountain, there are four six-person chairlifts; total strangers assume
everyone wants the bar all the time. This is not the rule of thumb.
It's polite to say hello once you're off, although participating in small
talk is individual choice. No point reduction if you decide to stay quiet.
When you get off the chairlift, get the hell out of the way. The unloading
area should stay clear for at least 50 feet beyond the chair. If you're hanging
out in there, you're being impolite and possibly creating hazards. This area
should look just like the end of the lift line at the bottom; there are people
moving through, but no one is just hanging out or standing in the way.
After you get off the chair and get out of the way, the mountain is your
playground. This is your time to appease your whims and enjoy yourself. Skiing
can be done in the company of others, but it is not a tandem sport; it's all
you, and you get to go pretty much wherever you want.
If you need to buckle your boots, I hate to keep nagging on the politeness
of it all, but don't stop in the middle of the run. If you or your group needs
to stop, move all the way over to the side (but not below a hill where people
can't see you). This should be your safe zone. Get out of everyone's way,
and they shouldn't ski too close to you.
On the slope, the Colorado Ski Act of 1976 says THE DOWNHILL SKIER HAS THE
RIGHT OF WAY. Most resorts have adopted this, and it is printed on the back
of your lift ticket. This is always the case, as we all look downhill to ski.
The downhill skier doesn't often look up to see what's coming, so the UPHILL
SKIER IS ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE for avoiding a mess. It doesn't matter if
someone has stopped, or they are still moving; THE DOWNHILL SKIER HAS THE
RIGHT OF WAY. This is the law, and times have changed as you can now be civilly
and criminally prosecuted for not adhering to this law (jail time and millions
of dollars can be ordered by a court). It's not just polite, it 's the law.
Know it and live by it.