No matter what skill level you are, when we venture into the mountains, there are things that we cannot predict or control. With seasons like the one we’re currently having, it’s important to be safe and educated when it comes to skiing or riding in variable conditions.
Practicing reliable safety measures while on the slopes is crucial. In celebration of NSAA’s Ski Safety Month, we’re sharing a few safety tips, starting with the Mountain Safety Guide from Ski California, to ensure a fun and seamless time enjoying Palisades Tahoe. Additionally, we have safety-related events featuring avalanche dog demonstrations and backcountry beacon practice with Alpenglow Expeditions!
Before You Ski & Ride
The Mountain Safety Guide from Ski California is chock-full of awesome recommendations to have the best time possible while out riding. The first steps to mountain safety happen before you get on the lift; make sure to always wear a helmet to help prevent and minimize injuries, check that your equipment is properly maintained and adjusted by a certified technician, and make sure you know the NSAA Responsibility Code. It is YOUR responsibility to be aware of your surroundings, the conditions, and your ability level while out on the slopes.
Our Commitment to Safety
Palisades Tahoe is committed to addressing safety every day and in every facet of our operations. Here is a short list of our commitments:
- We provide guest education on how to ski and snowboard properly.
- We offer ski and snowboard lessons from qualified instructors.
- We staff a trained ski patrol to provide first aid, assess mountain safety, post warnings, close trails, and conduct avalanche mitigation (when necessary).
- We conduct ongoing lift inspections and maintenance, work with regulatory agencies, and staff trained lift operations personnel to operate lifts.
- We monitor weather and mountain conditions and modify operations when appropriate.
- We provide trail difficulty rating symbols relative to specific terrain.
- We use industry approved signage to help direct and educate guests.
KNOW THE RESPONSIBILITY CODE
The above are just a few things you should keep in mind while skiing or snowboarding. Here is the full Responsibility Code from NSAA.
- Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
- People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
- You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.
- Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
- Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
- Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
- Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
WET SNOW AND FIRM CONDITIONS
Following a year like last year where we received 723 inches of snowfall, making it the deepest year since 1950, we had high hopes for the 2023-2024 winter season at Palisades Tahoe. Even though we haven’t gotten nearly as much snow as last year, we’re rooting for solid spring turns in the near future. But don’t worry, we’re still embracing the season we’ve had so far and making the most of it! There is still plenty of fun to be had.
Though El Niño years can lend lots of snow, this year has trended toward warmer conditions and more rainfall. With wetter storm cycles, the likelihood of ice in layers of the snowpack is high. It’s always smart to keep your edges sharp and to ski with buddies in conditions like these. Use the time of day as a guide and follow the path of the sun. Early mornings and later in the afternoon will usually be firmer and sometimes icy. Ride groomers during these times. Off-piste zones with these conditions will not be enjoyable and are more dangerous. Our snowmakers and groomers work hard to cover terrain and make it as safe as possible. Corduroy is still in fashion!
Some pro tips:
- Know Before You Go: Be familiar with your level of skiing and have a general plan for where you’d like to ski.
- It’s OK To Ask: We have mountain hosts, patrollers, and lift operators all over the mountain. It is OK — and recommended! — to ask them if certain lifts/runs will fit your skill level.
- Pay Attention to Signage: Lifts like Silverado have very clear “Experts Only” signage. If you are not sure that you are an expert, do not attempt expert terrain without a guide.
- It Isn’t a Race: Slow down when trails merge (you’ll see large, orange “Slow” signs) and always look around you to watch for others. The skier downhill of you has the right of way. Respect their space
If you go out of bounds and disobey boundaries, you don’t just put yourself at risk. You put our Ski Patrol teams and local Search & Rescue at risk, too. The terrain out of bounds is not subjected to the same safety protocols that we perform inbounds, such as avalanche control, marking obstacles, conditions checks and more. You must stay in bounds at all times, especially with our current conditions. Here are a few other safety tips that you’ll want to keep in mind in case you ever find yourself in a situation where you are lost:
- Power Up: Make sure your phone is fully charged, or power it down when you’re not using it.
- Do A Group Check-In: Set a “meet up” time & place established for the end of the day with your group.
- Get The Right Scan: Never attempt to sneak up the mountain or use someone else’s pass. Your data from your last scan could be the key to helping us find you in case of an emergency, and it is important that this is accurate.
- Stay In Your Lane: Ski in terrain you are familiar with, within your ability level.
- Track with the Palisades Tahoe app: This is NOT a marketing ploy but an incredible safety feature that can help us pinpoint your coordinates in an emergency. You can also create a group (public or private) with your friends/family and check on their locations if needed.
Remember, going out of bounds or skiing on closed terrain is not only dangerous, but it can lead to you getting your pass pulled and other consequences.
It should go without saying, but a helmet should be a crucial part of your ski or snowboard setup. It is often the piece of equipment that prevents major injuries or even saves lives. Taking this simple step to protect yourself is easily our #1 safety recommendation. If you do not have a helmet, you can rent one for $10, or you can purchase one at one of our gear shops: In The Village at Palisades Tahoe, helmets are available at Parallel Mountain Sports or The Ledge Boardshop. In the Alpine Lodge, helmets are available at Estelle Sports. We also recommend getting outerwear with RECCO Rescue System Technology which emits a directional radar signal that effectively guides rescuers to the individual wearing it.
UPCOMING SAFETY EVENTS
To celebrate Ski California Safety Month, Palisades Tahoe will be providing fun and educational opportunities for guests to participate in and sharpen up their safety skills at both mountains. Head to our event webpage for a full schedule and more information. Ski Patrol will be doing live demonstrations with their avalanche dogs demonstrating their ability to sniff human scent in the snow. Alpenglow Expeditions will be providing AIARE Level-1 trainings where you can learn avalanche education and become certified. There will also be a scavenger hunt to find a brand-new Smith helmet.
CALIFORNIA SAFETY DAY SCHEDULE
|Saturday, January 27th
|Scavenger Hunt: Smith Helmet Giveaway
|Use the clues posted on our Instagram (@palisadestahoe) stories Friday, January 26th for a chance to find a brand new Smith helmet.
|Saturday, January 27th @ 10am & 2pm
(top of Funitel) & Alpine (Treeline Cirque mid-station)
|Avalanche Rescue Dog Demonstrations
|Learn how the Palisades Avalanche Patrol Dogs and Alpine Avalanche Rescue Foundation (AARF) Dogs do their jobs. Watch our incredible patrol dogs demonstrate their abilities by searching for human scent under the snow. For the Palisades demonstration, meet at the top of the Funitel at 10am. For the Alpine demonstration, meet at the Treeline Cirque mid-station at 2pm.
|Saturday & Sunday, January 27th-28th
|AIARE Level 1 Course with Alpenglow Expeditions
|A 2-day hybrid avalanche education course in the North Lake Tahoe area with Alpenglow Expeditions. Some previous experience in the backcountry required. Register here.
ONE LAST PRO TIP
The Palisades Tahoe Mobile App is actually a great safety tool. It includes a map of our terrain with trail ratings which can be helpful if you are unfamiliar with our mountain so you can work your way up in difficulty versus starting on the high end of your ability level. You and your family or friends can form a “group” on the app, which gives you all access to everybody’s location. If you get split up from somebody, you can just check the app to see where they are. The app also provides a log of where you’ve skied, which can be useful for us if we need to find you. Plus, in case of emergency, instructions for contacting Ski Patrol can be found there, too. Download the Palisades Tahoe App now.