What is the Alpine Responsibility Code?


Learn the rules of the hill and stay safe by familiarizing yourself with the Alpine Responsibility Code!

Have you ever taken the time to stop and read all those big, bright, yellow signs posted around the Chicopee property? If you have, you’re likely aware that one of those signs (posted in many areas) is the Alpine Responsibility Code. A variation of this “code of conduct” is used by most ski area associations around the world. The Alpine Responsibility Code posted and followed at Chicopee is used by all ski hills in the Ontario Snow Resort Association. 

You can think of the Alpine Responsibility Code as the “rules of the road” for skiing/snowboarding. It also serves as a way for (Ski) Patrol to promote safety and injury prevention on the hill. There are many elements of risk associated with skiing and snowboarding that can be mitigated with common sense and personal awareness. Being familiar with, and following the Alpine Responsibility code can help keep yourself and others around you safe.

Let’s take a closer look at the 10 items listed on the Alpine Responsibility Code.

The Golden Rule (#1): Always stay in control. You must be able to stop, or avoid other people or objects. Being in control, able to stop and avoid collisions with other people and obstacles is key to keeping the hills safe for everyone.

#2: People ahead of you have the right-of-way. It is your responsibility to avoid those riding ahead of you, which coincidentally only works if you are in control (see The Golden Rule above!).

#3: Do not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above. This one is key to not getting hit from behind. This one is common sense, never stop in a sharp turn, under a jump, or anywhere where skiers/snowboarders behind you cannot see you. If they can’t see you, they potentially won’t be able to stop before colliding with you.

#4: Before starting downhill or merging onto a trail, look up-hill and yield to others. This is similar to traffic on the streets, before you pull out onto the road – make sure there’s no one coming! This is similar to rule #2 and is there to prevent collisions.

#5: If you are involved in, or witness a collision/accident, you must remain at the scene and identify yourself to the Ski Patrol. Every accident that happens come with lots of paperwork, and having witness statements and multiple accounts of the accident can help determine what really happened. Serious accidents need to be analyzed to highlight necessary changes that might help prevent repeat incidents in the future.

#6: Always use proper devices to help prevent runaway equipment. Skis have ski-brakes and snowboarders should fasten their boards with a leash/leg strap. Runaway equipment hurts at the bottom of the hill!

#7: Observe and obey all posted signs and warnings. Signs around the resort are always posted for a reason, we have warning signs for varied terrain and signs that indicate the difficulty of the terrain. Its always best to choose the difficulty you’d like to ride rather than be forced down a hill you’re uncomfortable on!

#8: Keep off closed trails and areas. If a run is closed – it’s for a good reason. There might not be enough snow, or the conditions could be unsafe.

#9: You must not use lifts of terrain if your ability is impaired through the use of alcohol or drugs. Lifts are unforgiving and dangerous (ever been hit in the back of the leg getting on? It can hurt and throw your balance right off!). Skiing and snowboarding can also be dangerous. Impaired judgement often leads to bad decisions and possibly injuries. Save the fun for après ski!

#10: You must have sufficient physical dexterity, ability and knowledge to safely load, ride and unload lifts. If in doubt, ask the lift attendant. If you’ve never been on a lift before, ask the staff for instructions. Observing those ahead of you is a great way to see how its done. 

Following the Alpine Responsibility Code and knowing your personal limits is the best way to keep skiing and snowboarding safe and enjoyable for everyone. Everyone participating has the same goal, to have FUN! Be aware, and ride with care.

Image of the Alpine Responsibility Code Sign.