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Mountain Safety

Skiing and snowboarding safely will certainly increase your enjoyment of the sport. Please review and follow the safety tips below.

Powder Safety Tips

Skiing and snowboarding off the groomed runs and in deep powder is one of the most exciting and appealing parts of our sport. However, if you decide to leave the groomed trails (ski/ride the off-piste) you are voluntarily accepting the risk of a deep snow accident.

Off-piste skiing/riding is extremely difficult and for experts only. Unmarked obstacles and hazards exist and should be expected. If you choose to ski/ride the ungroomed area, including glades and trees, please remember and follow these safety precautions:

  1. Ski and Ride with a Partner
  2. It is critical to ski or ride with a partner who remains in visual contact at all times. In many cases, some of the deaths which have occurred due to tree well or deep snow immersion incidents may have been avoided had: the person been with a partner
    the partner saw the person fall and
    the partner was close enough to assist digging the victim out in a timely manner.

    It does NO GOOD for your safety if you are under the snow and your partner is waiting for you at the bottom of the lift. If you have any question about what a “timely manner” is to assist someone in a tree well or deep snow, hold your breath now as you are reading this and the amount of time until you need air is approximately how much time your partner has to help get you out of danger. Other factors such as creating an air pocket or the nature of how you fall into the well may extend this critical timeframe. VISUAL CONTACT means stopping and watching your partner descend at all times, then proceeding downhill while he or she watches you at all times. IF YOU LOSE VISUAL SIGHT OF YOUR PARTNER, YOU COULD LOSE YOUR FRIEND.

  3. Carry, and know how to use, backcountry gear and wear a helmet.
  4. Know how to use, and carry, the same personal rescue gear as backcountry skiers or snowboarders:

  5. If you use poles, remove your pole straps.
  6. Remove your pole straps before heading down a powder slope. Trapped skiers have difficulty removing the pole straps, which can hamper efforts to escape or clear an air space to breathe.

  7. What if I go down?
    • If you are sliding toward a tree well or a deep snow bank, do everything you can to avoid going down: grab branches, hug the tree, or anything to stay above the surface.
    • If you go down, resist the urge to struggle violently. The more you struggle, the more snow will fall into the well from the branches and area around the well and compact around you.
    • Instead of panicking, try first to make a breathing space around your face. Then move your body carefully in a rocking manner to hollow out the snow and give you space and air.
  8. Hopefully, your partner will have seen what happened and will come to your rescue within minutes. If not, experts advise staying calm while waiting for assistance. Survival chances are improved if you maintain your air space. Over time, heat generated by your body, combined with your rocking motions, will compact the snow, and you may be able to work your way out.

Deep Snow Safety Tips

Skiing and snowboarding off the groomed runs and in deep powder is one of the most exciting and appealing parts of our sport. However, if you decide to leave the groomed trails you are voluntarily accepting the risk of a deep snow immersion accident. A deep snow, or tree well immersion accident, occurs when a skier or rider falls into an area of deep unconsolidated snow and becomes immobilized and suffocates. Deaths resulting from these kinds of accidents are referred to as a NARSID or Non-Avalanche Related Snow Immersion Deaths.

NSAA has made available for distribution Tree Well and Deep Snow caution signs for resorts to use in their efforts to educate skiers and snowboarders about the hazards of tree wells during deep snow conditions. Ski areas are able to download the artwork and have signs made to fit the conditions at their resorts, either for on-mountain signage, printed in trail maps, posted on websites, or utilized in other mountain media.

NSAA’s Tree Well Safety signs are available for download here.

Become educated on how to reduce the risk of NARSID through your own action and awareness. ALWAYS ski or ride with a partner within viewing distance. The website www.deepsnowsafety.org is an excellent resource designed to assist all skiers and riders in educating themselves about the risks and prevention of deep snow and tree well immersion accidents.

Beacon Training Park

Hours: 10:00am - 2:00pm daily

Patrol Staffed Saturdays & Sundays
Hours: 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Donated By the Zell family

The 4 main points of Smart Style

  • Make a Plan
    • Every time you use freestyle terrain, make a plan for each feature you want to use.
    • Your speed, approach and take off will directly affect your maneuver and landing.
  • Look Before You Leap
    • Before getting into freestyle terrain observe all signage and warnings.
    • First Scope around the jumps - not over them.
    • Use your first run as a warm up run to familiarize yourself with the terrain.
    • Be aware that the features change constantly due to weather, usage, grooming and time of day.
    • Do not jump blindly and use a spotter when necessary.
  • Easy Style It
    • Know your limits and ski/ride within your ability level.
    • Look for small progression parks or features to begin with and work your way up.
    • Freestyle skills require maintaining control on the ground and in the air.
    • Do not attempt any features unless you have sufficient ability and experience to do so safely.
    • Inverted aerials increase your risk of injury and are not recommended.
  • Respect Gets Respect
    • Respect the terrain and others (Freestyle terrain is for everyone regardless of equipment or ability)
    • One person on a feature at a time.
    • Wait your turn and call your start.
    • Always clear the landing area quickly.
    • Respect all signs and stay off closed terrain and features.

Terrain Park Safety

Backcountry Access

Alpine Meadows maintains an open boundary policy which opens our boundaries to an untracked world for experienced skiers and riders in the Lake Tahoe area.  Travel in the backcountry can be exhilarating but it can also present risks and dangers.  The terrain beyond the ski area boundary is in its natural state and entering the backcountry involves risks including those posed by deep snow, avalanches, steep terrain, cliffs and other terrain variations.  We do not perform avalanche control or patrol beyond our boundary and take no additional measures to mitigate the hazards to which skiers/boarders might be exposed.  Persons skiing or riding beyond the ski area boundary assume all risks inherent in the backcountry.  Before you leave the ski area boundary, please take time to educate yourself about the backcountry.  It is unlawful for skiers or riders to cross through Closed Areas to access the ski area boundary.  Ski and ride responsibly.  


Warning: Risk of Avalanche

While snow safety and avalanche mitigation efforts help reduce the risk of avalanches, avalanches and snow slides may occur at ski areas, both inside and outside of the posted boundaries. Avalanches are an inherent risk of the sport due to the nature of snow and its application on steep, mountainous terrain. Become educated on how to reduce the risk of injury or death from avalanches through your own actions and awareness.

RECCO® - Avalanche Awareness

Visit http://www.avalanche.org or contact the Alpine Meadows ski patrol for further information on the risks and prevention of avalanche-related injuries or death.

Know The Code

Skiing and snowboarding can be enjoyed in many ways. At ski areas you may see people using alpine, snowboard, telemark, cross country and other specialized ski equipment, such as that used by disabled or other skiers. Regardless of how you decide to enjoy the slopes, always show courtesy to others and be aware that there are elements of risk in skiing that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce. Observe the code listed below and share with other skiers the responsibility for a great skiing experience.

  1. Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. Always use devices to help prevent run away equipment.
  6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride, and unload safely.
  8. If you are involved in a collision or are a witness, do not leave the scene until the Ski Patrol has talked to you.

Helmets are recommended while skiing and riding. See Lids on Kids for more information: www.LidsOnKids.org.

Please leave snow bikes, sleds, inner tubes and snow skates at home.

This is a partial list.  Officially endorsed by: NATIONAL SKI AREAS ASSOCIATION.


Obey All Posted Signs

Obey All Posted Signs and Warnings

All poles and/or flags, fencing, signage and padding on equipment or objects or other forms of marking devices are used by the ski area to inform you of the presence or location of a potential obstacle or hazard.  These markers are no guarantee of your safety and will not protect you from injury. It is part of your responsibility under your Responsibility Code to avoid all obstacles or hazards, including those that are so marked. Please be aware that snowcats, snowmobiles and snowmaking may be encountered at anytime.

Terrain Symbols 

A green circle, blue square or black diamond at Alpine Meadows is not necessarily the same as similarly rated terrain at other areas. The ratings are a relative system that applies only to this area. Work your way up, beginning with the easiest terrain no matter what your ability level may be, until you are familiar with the terrain at Alpine Meadows. 

Slow Zones

Certain areas are designated as SLOW ZONES.  Please observe the posted slow zone areas by maintaining a speed no faster than the general flow of traffic. Fast and aggressive skiing and riding will not be tolerated.


Chairlift Riding Practices

Skiing and snowboarding are sports that people of all ages can enjoy. In order to participate, skiers and riders, including children, commonly ride chairlifts to access the slopes. Sometimes children ride chairlifts with adults, instructors and coaches. In certain circumstances, children may ride lifts without adults, instructors or coaches. Furthermore, while there may be restraining bars on chairlifts, lowering the bars does not guarantee the safety of the passengers.

The following practices have been developed in an attempt to reduce the risks associated with riding lifts at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. We recommend and educate our guests on the following practices.

Chairlift Practices

“Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.” 

  • We recommend the use of the chairlift restraining bar, for guests when they can do so safely. When possible, we attempt to have an adult ride on lifts with children but it may not be practical to do so all the time. 

  • We train our lift operators to assist children, as appropriate, when loading the chair. 

  • We train our lift operators and instructors, as necessary to verbally remind children to SIT BACK, HOLD ON, LOOK FORWARD, and DON’T FOOL AROUND. We encourage parents to re-enforce this message with their children. 

  • Adults riding with children may be reminded to lower the bar. O

  • Our coaches and instructors lower the bar, if available, when riding with children in the following snowsports programs: Squaw Valley Mighty Mites, Squaw Valley Shooting Stars, Alpine Meadows Mountain Rangers, Alpine Meadows Development Team, Squaw Kids lessons, Alpine Kids lessons, Private lessons with children under 13 years old 

  • We teach children enrolled in snowsports programs to use the bar if they can do so safely.

  • We post the following message for parents: “Please be advised that your child may be riding lifts alone, with other children, or with adults while enrolled in group lessons, private lessons, or Teams. Please advise a Supervisor or Head Coach if you do not wish for your child to ride a chair lift alone.” 

Children's Chairlift Code of Conduct

“Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.” 

We have developed the Children’s Chairlift Code of Conduct to help all of us educate our young skiers and riders about the importance of following chairlift best practices. Please take an active role in educating your child on the following guidelines:

  1. Behave and be respectful of your teammates and others when you are in line, loading the chair, riding the chair, and unloading the chair. 

  2. When you are loading the chair, move promptly from the WAIT HERE board to the LOAD HERE board. 

  3. At the LOAD HERE board,

    1. Hold your poles in your inside hand

    2. Look back and to the outside

    3. Grab side of chair, back or top of seat as it approaches.


    5. Use the restraining bar if you can do so safely

  4. While you are riding the chair, DO NOT play with skis or boards and DO NOT play with the restraining bar.

  5. If the lift stops, DO NOT turn around or play around on the chair. 

  6. After you unload the chair:

    1. Move away from the unloading ramp

    2. Stay out of the way of others.

    3. Wait for coach or instructor

  7. If you fail to unload:

    1. Sit back and hold on.

    2. Wait for the operator.

  8. Children participating in a supervised program that violate this Code of Conduct will be appropriately reprimanded up to and including termination from our program.

Chairlift Safety | Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows from Squaw Valley on Vimeo.

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