Tahoe Top Five: Safety on the slopes paramount after epic storm | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Top Five: Safety on the slopes paramount after epic storm

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — Recent storms dumping 10-plus feet of snow this week across the greater Tahoe-Truckee region has everyone itching to get to the mountains.

With Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend an annual big holiday skiing weekend for the region, experts are reminding local and visiting skiers and riders to take care of themselves and others out there; safety's always first.

"The most common day for people to be involved in avalanche accidents is the first sunny day following a storm — sunny and beautiful doesn't mean the hazard is over," said Erin Laine, Avalanche Educator and Ski Guide with Alpine Skills International. "Be aware of deep snow immersion, ski with a partner and plan to stay in contact; it can be really difficult to self-rescue once you're in deep snow."

Laine recommends packing a shovel while skiing in-bounds to be prepared to help dig someone else out.

North Tahoe-Truckee resorts offer similar advice, a summary of which is included below in the Sierra Sun's Top 5 Safety Tips for Fresh Tracks:

1. Ski in pairs! Always ski with a partner; if your buddies are busy and you plan to head to Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, simply download the resort's app and create a group to ski and ride with.

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2. Homewood Mountain Resort Ski Patrol reminds everyone to observe all signs and warnings, keep off closed trails and out of closed areas — remember, Ski Patrol closes them for a reason.

3. Diamond Peak and Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe are two of several resorts that encourage guests, especially little-ones, to wear a helmet.

4. Tahoe Donner recognizes the Golden Rule as major mountain etiquette, teaching that respect earns respect and keeps the mountain positive and fun.

5. No matter what resort you ski or ride, anyone planning to get to the hill should take the initiative to familiarize themselves with the Responsibility Code — a set of guidelines to which skiers and riders across the board should adhere.

The responsibility code

The National Ski Areas Association offers snow enthusiasts instant access to the Responsibility Code by visiting http://bit.ly/1fKGnXm; the 7 points to your Responsibility Code are below:

1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.

2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.

3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.

4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.

5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.

6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.

7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

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Editor’s note:

“Tahoe Top Five” is a new feature from the Sierra Sun. Each Friday, we will feature a weekly list that will span topics such as dining, entertainment, outdoor recreation, health & wellness and more, all focused on the unique nature of the Tahoe-Truckee lifestyle. Have an idea for a future Tahoe Top Five? Email Reporter Cassandra Walker at cwalker@sierrasun.com.