Mountain Safety Essentials

Tips from our expert ski guide on going over a roll, cutting across a fall line and the five essentials you need to have with you on the mountain.

When hitting the slopes, it’s vital to remember that safety comes first. Always keep in mind that there are other skiers of all skill levels on the mountain with you, and you must be cognizant of them to ensure their safety, as well as your own.

Ski Guide Brent Phillips of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides gives some advice and mountain safety tips based on situations he sees every day.

GOING OVER A ROLL

A roll is a hill on a mountain that you cannot see over to catch sight of skiers or other objects ahead of you, due to its drastic drop angle. Many mountain-goers make the mistake of stopping in the middle of a run, once they get over the peak, but this poses the risk of colliding with others who may not see them.

Brent says it’s important not to stop if you go over a roll. If you absolutely have to stop, be sure to move off to the side of the run so you are not a hazard to others.

CUTTING ACROSS A FALL LINE

You have to also be aware of those around you when skiing quickly down a fall line run. A fall line is the invisible line on the mountain which is steepest, or where gravity would naturally lead a skier. For instance, if you were to roll a ball down an incline, the fall line would be the path that the ball would most likely follow. Brent advises that when skiing down a fall line and making cuts across a run, be sure to check behind you over your shoulder on both sides. This motion is similar to what you would do when driving and changing lanes.

QUICK TIPS

Brent suggests always doing these important things before going out on any mountain:

  • Check with the local ski patrol or guide service to get a daily avalanche bulletin and weather forecast.
  • Never go without the five essentials listed below and the knowledge of how to use them.

FIVE ESSENTIALS

  1. Wear layers and avoid cotton to keep body temperature at a safe level.
  2. Check the forecast and skiing conditions, as the weather on the mountain is always changing.
  3. Wear sunscreen, and bring extra for reapplication
  4. Bring sunglasses to shield the glare from the sun and the snow.
  5. Apply and reapply lip balm to avoid chapped or windburned lips.

Find out more about properly layering and the essential gear you’ll need for mountain safety.