January is National Ski Area Association (NSAA) Safety Month, and we have some fun activities planned for you. It’s also a great opportunity to talk about mountain safety in general.

It’s been a different snow year than last year when we were receiving record snowfall. Conditions have been leaner this year, with more hazards on the hill. When lean conditions are present, you may need to change some of your skiing and riding habits to fit the snow (or lack thereof). Checking your speed and picking your line to navigate around hazards are a couple tips to start with.

This may sound like common sense, but please read our signs, as well as the safety information on our maps, tickets, and website. If you are coming from out of state, recognize that we probably do things a little bit differently from what you may be used to at your home resort. Even trail ratings can differ from resort to resort.

“Put your head on a swivel” is a term you may have heard before. In short, it means looking out for other skiers, and it’s essential when terrain is limited. Make sure to give space to the people around you – 15 feet at least. Remember that people downhill of you have the right of way and slow down or stop if you are starting to encroach on someone else’s space. Please tell your kids to look up when popping out from their favorite tree run and do the same yourself when merging onto trails. In big merge areas, you need to ski more defensively, just like in driving.

We can’t talk about mountain safety without mentioning the terrain park. Check out the park before you enter the park and make sure the features are within your abilities. Solitude practices Park SMART principles. If you don’t know what these are, read the signs at the park entrance or view them here.

Have you ever seen beautiful, untracked snow behind a rope at a resort? Have you thought about ducking that rope for a quick turn or two? Please don’t! There are often unmarked hazards hidden underneath that snow. Our mountain also has an abundance of avalanche terrain, which our patrol works to mitigate after every storm. In short, those rope lines are there for a reason. Ducking ropes distracts our patrol from helping other guests. If you go into closed terrain and get hurt, our patrol has to put themselves in jeopardy to help you.

To dive deeper into mountain safety, check out our free (and fun) safety events this month. On January 14, we’ll be offering a tour of our patrol and dispatch shacks. On January 20, we’ll host a pancake breakfast where you can talk with patrollers, check out rescue gear, and meet one of the avy dogs. Finally, we’re hosting a rail jam on January 27 where you can meet our park crew and learn more about park etiquette and safety. On January 6, our avalanche mitigation team presented on the effort they put forth to reduce avalanche hazards and enable terrain openings. View the whole presentation here:

Lastly, we encourage guests to freshen up on the Skier’s Responsibility Code. You’ve no doubt encountered these signs before, but the language has changed a bit in the last couple years — please give them another look over.

Our goal at Solitude is for you to have a great time and return home without accident or injury. Take some time this month to learn more about mountain safety and continue to enjoy the slopes!

To catch up on previous Amber’s Updates, visit https://blog.solitudemountain.com/category/ambers-updates/

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