It happens to the best of us: You’re out skiing or snowboarding when you suddenly catch an edge, and it wipes you out. You immediately think: I’m so glad I’m wearing my helmet!
We’re glad when you wear your helmet, too. It is important to practice good safety measures on our mountains, so to celebrate NSAA’s Ski Safety Month, we’re sharing a few safety tips starting with the Mountain Safety Guide from Ski California for having a fun, seamless time enjoying Palisades Tahoe. Plus: We have safety-related events with avalanche dog demonstrations and backcountry beacon practice with Alpenglow Expeditions!
Before You Ski & Ride
The Mountain Safety Guide from Ski California is chalk-full of awesome recommendations to have the best time possible while out riding. The first steps to mountain safety happen before you jump on the first 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.
LIGHT SNOW IS A GO
It’s no secret that it has been dumping snow up here for much of January… a whopping 14 feet just this month! With all the snow, the dreaded tree wells are deep which makes it even more vital to ride with friends and keep your buddies in sight to avoid snow immersion. For some of you we know that our fluffy snow makes an enticing landing pad for trying out your favorite features, but always make sure to have a spotter to ensure that your landing is free of trees, rocks, or even other skiers and snowboarders.
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
OUT OF BOUNDS
Our new Base to Base Gondola is finally here and has interconnected our two resorts. However, the terrain from the KT-mid station to the Alpine Base is still out of bounds and is privately owned land. Ducking a closure rope might seem like a shortcut, or something that isn’t a big deal if you know the terrain well. But that is not the case. 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. Recently, we’ve had several incidents of skiers or snowboarders who ducked ropes and found themselves in trouble. When you disobey boundaries, you don’t just put yourself at risk. You put our Ski Patrol teams and local Search & Rescue at risk, too.
To prevent this from happening to you, the best thing you can do is 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.
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.
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. 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 mini-avalanche awareness clinics where you can learn and practice your rescuing skills. All events are free and open to the public.
Avalanche Dog Demonstrations
Join us on January 28 and learn how our Avalanche Patrol Dogs do their jobs. Watch our incredible patrol dogs demonstrate their abilities by searching for human scent under the snow. If you’re at Alpine meet us at the mid-station of Treeline Cirque chairlift at 10am to view our patrol dogs in action! On the Palisades side, meet at the patrol shack, top of the Funitel outside at 10am.
Beacon Bash with Alpenglow Expeditions
Join Alpenglow Expeditions on Thursday, January 26 for a few hours of beacon practice at Alpine. This event is designed to keep skiers and riders up to date on best practices and gear for avalanche rescue. Suitable for both in-bounds and out-of-bounds skiers, our AMGA-trained guides will prepare you for the unthinkable. This event has free registration.
Learning outcomes include:
- Describe what to do in the event of an avalanche incident.
- Identify and be able to use gear necessary for avalanche rescue.
- Set up a realistic scenario in order to practice an avalanche rescue response.
- Improve response skills and times during and after the course with feedback from instructors and peers.
- Develop a plan for continued practice.
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.