Lift and piste operators make sure winter sports are safe as well as fun. Their instructions, markings and signs must be observed. If you use the facilities correctly, you’re contributing to everyone’s safety.
Instructions are usually displayed on boards and screens next to lifts. Chairlifts, for example, might remind you that kids under 125 cm must be accompanied by an adult and that backpacks must always be carried on your lap. Drag lifts, meanwhile, might have a warning just before the exit.
Pistes are groomed, prepared, secured and checked. They’re categorised by difficulty (blue/red/black) and marked on both sides. The left and right edges of the piste are marked differently (e.g. with directional arrows or different heights of the bright orange tops of the marker poles). This helps all piste users to find their way back down the mountain, even when visibility is poor.
Yellow pistes, which are only suitable for experienced skiers and snowboarders, are marked either at the sides or in the middle. They’re secured against the usual dangers but not groomed. Preparation and checks are limited, and there isn’t usually a check at the end of the day.
Terrain parks (freestyle, skicross/boardercross and halfpipe) are specially marked in orange and separated from the pistes.
Warning signs draw your attention to localised hazards. Various types of warning (e.g. “pistes crossing”, “narrow section”, “slow” etc.) require you to be especially careful or reduce your speed.
Signs or ropes show which pistes and facilities are closed, for instance due to an avalanche risk. All pistes and facilities are generally closed from the final check of the day until the lifts start up again the next day. This is to allow for the pistes to be groomed and for controlled avalanches to be triggered if necessary. There aren’t usually any signs to warn of these routine closures.
- Take note of instructions.
- Pay attention to markings.
- Obey signs.