Mountain Safety

Like a Rolling Snowball...

We are committed to the environment and safety in everything we do. From day-to-day operations to long-term planning, we're always keeping your safety and our environment's best interests in mind. Maybe that's why we've won numerous awards for outstanding dedication to safety and the environment. Remember, respect gets respect. Here are some great tips to ensure you have the very best and safest time possible while up here.

Sierra has added several areas to the mountain called slow zones which visibly designate an entire run or area as a “go slow area”. These zones are signed with 15 mph speed limits and are patrolled by Ski Patrol and Mountain Safety.

One of the slow zones is Sugar N’ Spice, a 2.5 mile beginner run that starts at the very top of the mountain, allowing beginner skiers and riders to access the mountain via Grandview Express and take in the spectacular views from the top. Other slow zones include the beginner runs of Ego, Corkscrew, Echo and Lower Sleighride. Together, the slow zones provide an easy way down on speed-controlled runs offering beginner skiers and riders or families with young children a non-intimidating route down the slopes.

Remember, you can't have love without a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Heads Up –  Know the Code, It’s Your Responsibility

Skiing can be enjoyed in many ways. At ski areas you may see people using alpine, snowboard, telemark, cross country and other specialized ski equipment, such as that used by disabled or other skiers. Regardless of how you decide to enjoy the slopes, always show courtesy to others and be aware that there are elements of risk in skiing and snowboarding that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce. Know your ability level and stay within it. Observe Your Responsibility Code listed below and share with others on the slopes the responsibility for a great snowsports experience.


1) Your Responsibility Code

  • 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.


2) Freestyle Terrain Areas

Freestyle Terrain Areas are designated with an orange oval and may contain jumps, hits, ramps, banks, fun boxes, jibs, rails, half pipes, quarter pipes, snowcross, bump terrain, and other constructed or natural terrain features. Prior to using Freestyle Terrain, you are responsible for familiarizing yourself with Freestyle Terrain and obeying all instructions, warnings, and signs. Freestyle skills require maintaining control on the ground, and in the air. Use of Freestyle Terrain exposes you to the risk of serious injury or death. Inverted aerials are not recommended. You assume the risk.

Smart Style

Freestyle Terrain has designations for size - Small features, Medium features, and Large features. Start small and work your way up. Designations are relative to this ski area.

  •  MAKE A PLAN.  Every time you use freestyle terrain, make a plan for each feature you want to use. Your speed, approach, and take off will directly affect your maneuver and landing.
  • LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP. You are responsible for inspecting Freestyle Terrain before initial use and throughout the day. The features vary in size and change constantly due to snow conditions, weather, usage, grooming, and time of day. Do not jump blindly. Use a spotter when necessary.
  • EASY STYLE IT. Always ride or ski in control and within your ability level. Do not attempt Freestyle Terrain unless you have sufficient ability and experience to do so safely. You control the degree of difficulty you will encounter in using Freestyle Terrain, both on the ground and in the air.
  • RESPECT GETS RESPECT. Respect Freestyle Terrain and others. Only one person on a feature at a time. Wait your turn and call your start. Always clear the landing area quickly. Respect all signs and do not enter Freestyle Terrain or use features when closed.


3) Lift Safety.

Be advised that you cannot board a lift unless you have sufficient physical dexterity, ability, and knowledge to negotiate or to use such lift safely, or until you have asked for and received information sufficient to enable you to load, ride, and unload the lift safely. You may not use a lift or any ski trail when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.


4) Caution.

Be cautious of snowcats, snowmobiles, and snowmaking that may be encountered at any time.


5) Slow Zones.

Certain areas (highlighted on the map) are designated as SLOW ZONES. Please observe the posted slow zone areas by maintaining a speed no faster than the general flow of traffic. Fast and aggressive skiing and riding will not be tolerated.


6) Helmet Use.

Helmets are a smart idea. Sierra encourages you to educate yourself on the benefits and limitations of helmets. If you choose to wear one, please ski or ride as if you are not wearing one. Every winter sport participant shares responsibility for his or her safety and for that of others using the ski area facilities.


7) Backcountry Warning.

The ski area assumes no responsibility for skiers or riders going beyond the ski area boundary. Areas beyond the ski area boundary are not patrolled or maintained. Avalanches, unmarked obstacles, and other natural hazards exist. Rescue in the backcountry, if available, will be costly and may take time.


8) Animals at the Mountain.

Dog is man's best friend. And we agree. But bringing your dog or other pets to Sierra is not encouraged. Not all of our guests like animals, and we like to respect all guests. So please keep your pet home if possible. If you must bring your pet to the mountain, please be aware that they must be on a leash and controlled at all times, and they are prohibited from coming into the base area or on the mountain. We appreciate your cooperation.



Avalanches are an inherent risk of the sport due to the nature of snow and its application on steep, mountainous terrain.  Avalanche Safety Tips »



The above information is officially endorsed and prepared by the  National Ski Areas Association

Powder & Deep Snow Safety Tips

The most important prevention step is to remain on groomed runs (see Groomed and Ungroomed Trails section), resisting the urge to ski or snowboard through the trees during deep powder conditions, no matter how inviting the untracked powder looks. Off-piste skiing/riding (defined as areas that may be off-trail and may or may not be within the ski area’s boundary) is extremely difficult and for experts only. Unmarked hazards and obstacles of all types, downed trees, stumps, rocks, boulders, and creeks are to be expected, and may be located anywhere throughout off-trail areas, and are dangerous. These areas are not regularly patrolled and are to be entered at your own risk. If you choose to ski or snowboard in the ungroomed, deep snow areas including gladed tree areas, remember:


1) Partner Up!

It is critical to ski or ride with a partner who remains in visual contact at all times. In many cases, some of the deaths which have occurred due to tree well or deep snow immersion incidents may have been avoided had:

  • the person been with a partner
  • the partner saw the person fall and
  • the partner was close enough to assist digging the victim out in a timely manner.

It does NO GOOD for your safety if you are under the snow and your partner is waiting for you at the bottom of the lift. If you have any question about what a “timely manner” is to assist someone in a tree well or deep snow, hold your breath now as you are reading this and the amount of time until you need air is approximately how much time your partner has to help get you out of danger. Other factors such as creating an air pocket or the nature of how you fall into the well may extend this critical timeframe.

VISUAL CONTACT means stopping and watching your partner descend at all times, then proceeding downhill while he or she watches you at all times. IF YOU LOSE VISUAL SIGHT OF YOUR PARTNER, YOU COULD LOSE YOUR FRIEND.


2) Carry Backcountry gear and wear a helmet.

Carry the same personal rescue gear as backcountry skiers or snowboarders:

  • Transceiver
  • Shovel
  • Probe
  • Whistle 


3) If you are a skier, remove your pole straps.

If you are a skier, remove your pole straps before heading down a powder slope. Trapped skiers have difficulty removing the pole straps, which can hamper efforts to escape or clear an air space to breathe.


What If I Go Down?

  1. If you are sliding toward a tree well or a deep snow bank, do everything you can to avoid going down: grab branches, hug the tree, or anything to stay above the surface.
  2. If you go down, resist the urge to struggle violently. The more you struggle, the more snow will fall into the well from the branches and area around the well and compact around you.
  3. Instead of panicking, try first to make a breathing space around your face. Then move your body carefully in a rocking manner to hollow out the snow and give you space and air.

Hopefully, your partner will have seen what happened and will come to your rescue within minutes. If not, experts advise staying calm while waiting for assistance. Survival chances are improved if you maintain your air space. Over time, heat generated by your body, combined with your rocking motions, will compact the snow, and you may be able to work your way out.



Avalanches and immersion in snow are an inherent risk of the sport due to the nature of snow and its application on steep, mountainous terrain. More information at or


Content by Mt. Baker Ski Area, Inc. 2006
Excerpts from article written by Robert Cadman, PhD

Avalanche Safety Tips

While snow safety and avalanche mitigation efforts help reduce the risk of avalanches, avalanches and snow slides may occur at ski areas, both inside and outside of the posted boundaries. Avalanches are an inherent risk of the sport due to the nature of snow and its application on steep, mountainous terrain.

Become educated on how to reduce the risk of injury or death from avalanches through your own actions and awareness.

  • Always ski with a partner and keep them within your sight lines at all times
  • Obey all signs and closures
  • Carry avalanche equipment such as beacons or transceivers, reflectors, probes, and shovels when skiing or riding in areas where avalanches may occur
  • Wear a helmet, or seriously consider it

Visit or contact Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Patrol for further information on the risks and prevention of avalanche-related injuries or death.

* View avalanche conditions courtesy of Sierra Avalanche Center. Click HERE for more details. 

Sierra Avalanche Dogs  

Not only do the Sierra Avalanche Dogs put smiles on countless faces, they also save lives. Sierra Avalanche Dogs Inc. is a 501 C-3 non-profit that was initiated in the 2011/12 ski season. The purpose of the fund is to help with the maintenance and training of the Avalanche Rescue Dog Teams at Sierra-At-Tahoe. Our Dog Teams are trained to a high level of competence, in both dog and handler, increasing the potential for live recovery of humans in the event of an avalanche incident. Our program is structured on the Switzerland Standards for Avalanche Rescue Dog Training. The dogs also provide avalanche awareness through education at local schools and public relations.

For more information and to help maintain the history of highly trained and committed Avalanche Rescue Dogs at Sierra-at-Tahoe visit

Buy Sierra Avalanche Dog T-Shirts HERE

Smart Style

Smart StyleThe National Ski Areas Association and Burton Snowboards have developed the "Smart Style" Freestyle Terrain Safety initiative, a cooperative effort to continue the proper use and progression of freestyle terrain at mountain resorts, while also delivering a unified message that is clear, concise, and effective.


There are four main messages that are associated with Smart Style:

    Every time you use freestyle terrain, make a plan for each feature you want to use. Your speed, approach, and take off will directly affect your maneuver and landing.
    Scope around the jumps first, not over them. Know your landings are clear and clear yourself out of the landing area.
    Start small and work your way up. (Inverted aerials not recommended.)
    From the lift line through the park.

Learn more about the Smart Style terrain park safety initiative by watching the Smart Style Video!