5 top tips for ski touring etiquette


Ski touring – be it on skis or a split board – is a whole new world of fun and adventure, and with it comes it`s own set of unspoken rules and courtesies. Here are 5 good to know tips on how to conduct oneself in the backcountry, subsequently setting us up – and indeed those around us – for an enjoyable day ahead.

1. Give way on the up

If someone is keeping a faster pace than you on the skin track, step off of it completely and allow them to pass. That goes for any other reason you may have stopped – such as delayering, grabbing a snack or using a device. Bottom line is, don`t stop on the track and force people to go around you, but rather come off of it until you are ready to resume or are not holding someone else at a slower pace than yourself.

2. Don`t snake lines

While we`re on the topic, if someone has created a skin track that you are using and they are still within eye sight, do not snake the line that they are clearly intending to ski. It may feel tempting to race them at a faster transition or drop slightly below them, but resist it! By all means use other people`s tracks, but do not get the jump on them for the skiing portion if you have benefited from their efforts on the up portion.

3. Be discreet when nature calls

If you need to go when you`re skinning up, use some discretion and come right away from the track. Though it may be extra work on a deep snow day or feel inconvenient, seeing where someone else has relieved themselves when you`re enjoying a beautiful backcountry hike is simply unpleasant. If you have the need, move right away, make a hole & cover it when you`ve finished.

4. Please don`t snowshoe the skin track

This may sound obvious but is often done; if you are snowshoeing do not do so on an already created skin track. There may well be an alternate path made by other snowshoers, or you may have to make your own. But please, don`t ruin an existing skin track.

5. Be nice!

Unfortunately, so many of us let the drive for finding fresh lines compromise our otherwise good nature. Remember, we are all of out to enjoy ourselves, nature and the sport. More times than not there are plenty of lines to be enjoyed, so don`t allow a great day in the mountains to be soured by any unfriendliness with others. Acknowledge others, greet others and even share and exchange knowledge about the conditions that you may have. After all, our ultimate goals are the same; to stay safe and have fun.

Nadine Robb is Owner and Instructor at Hakuba Ski Concierge. Hakuba Ski Concierge is a boutique ski school in Hakuba, Japan.

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Comments (4)

  1. Peter Ryan says:

    All good common sense but a timely reminder. Often it’s the skiers who just aren’t fit enough who are lazy about etiquette which causes the problems. Once you get into trouble on the slopes it can soon escalate into a serious injury.

  2. Claire Smith says:

    Skiing would be more fun for everyone and much, much safer if some skiers left their egos back in their hotel.

  3. Nina Hobson says:

    I used to live in Switzerland and we’d ski regularly. There were strict rules about skiing, some written, others more general etiquette.
    This is a great round up and so important for foreigners to know before they visit. In Switzerland locals would (rightfully) get annoyed when foreigners like me would unknowingly break the rules and spoil it for everyone.
    Things like only skiing on pistes according to your ability, sticking to snow board / ski lanes only etc.
    After living there I learned the culture and the rules, but it’s good to see these tips published too.

  4. Ben says:

    The fact that so many people are skiing without enough concern for other people’s enjoyment and safety makes me think that maybe tips like these should have a higher profile. Perhaps the resorts ought to put up more notices. Maybe get some safety adverts up in the feeder airports or hand out leaflets as people check into their chalets or hotels. It is always about education you can change people’s behaviour and the way they think if you go about it with enough effort.

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