Downhill Ski

Downhill Ski > Safety


Ski Patrol

You will find Ski Patrol circulating all over the mountain conducting mountain safety. Rest assured, we have you covered when it comes to safety. Our volunteer unit of the National Ski Patrol helps to ensure the safety of all our patrons on the hill. If you are interested in volunteering at Tahoe Donner please visit the National Ski Patrol web site to learn more.

Should you have any concerns or need to report an incident, please call Ski Patrol at (530) 587-9430.

Responsibility Code

There are many ways of enjoying your time at Tahoe Donner Downhill. 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. Common sense and personal awareness can help reduce risk of injury.  Know your ability level and stay within it.

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. It is your responsibility to be safe and conscious, and to know the code. Share the code with others on the slopes.

Terrain Park Safety

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
  • other constructed or natural terrain features.

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.
Freestyle Terrain has designations for size. Start small in our Mini Size Candyland Park and work your way up to Bite Size and King Size Parks. Designations are relative to this ski area.

Terrain Park Safety Code

  • Know your Limits and ability level and select the appropriate Freestyle Terrain for you.
  • Your condition, speed, balance, body movements, alignment, trajectory and maneuver difficulty will directly affect your desired outcome.
  • Know the intended use of the Freestyle Terrain you have chosen. For example, some features are intended to be used in a series with no stopping and some individually with stopping areas; jump takeoffs are for jumping and rail takeoffs are for entering onto rails.
  • Your actions can take you out of balance and cause serious injury or death, no matter how the feature is designed or where you land. Land on your feet!
  • Transitions are changes in the shape and pitch of the snow or feature, or changes from one type of sliding surface to another. Transitions can be gentle or abrupt, and demand that users be alert and respond to them with accurate movements.
  • Know where to Land. The sweet spot is between the “knuckle” and center of the landing zone. Even if you land on or near the sweet spot, you can still be seriously injured or die if your landing posture is not correct.
  • Inverted maneuvers are not recommended.
  • Be aware that features change constantly due to snow conditions, weather, usage, grooming and time of day.
  • Read and obey all posted signs, instructions and warnings before using Freestyle Terrain.
  • Some resorts designate features as small, medium and large. Be aware these ratings are determined by size, not degree of difficulty, and are relative only to that  resort.

Smart Style

The 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.

Four main points of Smart Style:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Other Safety Information

Electronic Devices

Tahoe Donner strongly discourages the use of electronic devices including cell phones, personal entertainment and communication devices, and any other electronic equipment that utilizes head/ear phones while skiing and snowboarding, or loading and unloading lifts.

Drone Rules

Out of safety concerns for guests, employees, and association property, as well as concerns for individual privacy, Tahoe Donner Association prohibits the operation or use of unmanned aerial systems, or drones, by the general public – including recreational users and hobbyists – without the prior written authorization from Tahoe Donner Association. This prohibition includes drones used for filming or videotaping, as well as any drone use by media or journalists operating above or within Tahoe Donner property boundaries. This prohibition on drone operations or use extends to any drones launched or operated from association property, as well as drones launched from private property outside of the Resort boundaries. Any authorized operation of aerial drones may be governed by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations, local law enforcement, and / or U.S. Forest Service, as well as those policies separately established by Tahoe Donner Association, which may include certification, training, insurance coverage, indemnification requirements, and waivers or releases of liability. Any violation of this rule may involve suspension of your recreation and/or member privileges, or the revocation of your season pass, as well as confiscation of any drone equipment, and may subject violators to any damages, including, but not limited to, damages for violations of privacy and/or physical or personal injuries or property damage, as well as regulatory fines and legal fees.

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.

Uphill Ski Policy

There is no uphill skiing allowed the Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area; unless authorization provided in writing by ski area management prior to for specific events or access.


Be cautious of snowcats, snowmobiles and other on hill equipment that may be encountered at any time.

Slow Zones

Certain areas 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.

Our staff is on the look-out for skiers and riders traveling too fast or displaying reckless behavior.  A verbal warning will be given to correct fast and reckless issues, and skiing and riding privileges may be suspended.

  • How Fast is Too Fast?  Many people have a hard time remembering what it was like to be a beginner skier or snowboarder. First, think about giving people some space. Next, remember that you must always be in control whether you are on an expert run or in a Slow Zone. This is the first point of the Skier Responsibility Code. If you are in the air, you have no control over your speed or direction. Jumps and hits are not allowed in the Slow Zones.
  • Why Can’t I Go as Fast as I Want When There is No One Else on the Run?  Many of the Slow Zones are on beginner runs, and where trails of different ratings converge.  Where beginners, kids and more advanced skiers/riders converge, everyone needs to slow down and be aware of who is around them.  Often beginners and children haven’t developed this “run awareness” yet, and may not have the foresight or physical ability to avoid others.  Going slow in these zones helps both beginners and advanced skiers navigate the runs and avoid collisions!


Tahoe Donner Downhill requires all students under age 13 to wear an approved ski helmet when taking a lesson.  We also recommend helmets for all out patrons.  We have helmets available for daily rental as well as for purchase at our retail location.

Lids on Kids.  We believe in safety just as much as we believe in fun. You will see many of our on mountain staff wearing helmets and we encourage the use of helmets on kids as a way of having more fun and being more safe! You can find more information about lids on kids by visiting the National Ski Patrol or by visiting Lids on Kids.

Skiing Out of Bounds

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. Unmarked obstacles and other natural hazards exist.

Out of Bounds Areas: Out of bounds areas are exactly that – out of bounds.   Our staff continually keeps an eye on out of bounds areas and makes sure guests are staying inside the lines.  Riding or skiing out of bounds can result in loss of pass or ticket, possible arrest by the Truckee police department and possible fine.

  • Why Can’t I Ski or Ride Out of Bounds? These areas are not patrolled by Ski Patrol, thereby increasing the risk to skiers and riders who may become injured if they are in an out of bounds area.

Deep Snow Safety + Tree Wells

The most important prevention step is to remain on groomed runs. Resist the urge to ski or snowboard through the trees during deep powder conditions.  If you choose to ski or snowboard ungroomed runs, deep snow areas with trees, remember:

  • Ski/ride With a Partner.  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 incidents may have been avoided had:
  1. the person been with a partner
  2. the partner saw the person fall
  3. the partner was close enough to assist digging the victim out in a timely manner.
  • Every Second Counts.  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, 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.
  • Maintain Visual Contact.  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 site of your partner, you could lose your friend.
  • 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?  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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

On-Hill Emergency Contact

Ski patrollers are stationed at the top of our Eagle Rock Lift and at the Base Lodge.  The first-aid room is located in the lower level of the Base Lodge at the base of the stairwell.

Report all accidents to the attendant at the bottom or top of the nearest lift.  To summon help, use the international signal of crossing your skis in an “X” uphill of the injured skier or rider, or contact Ski Patrol at (530) 587-9430.


WARNING: Skiing, snowboarding and other winter recreational activities involve inherent and other risks of injury and death. Trail conditions vary constantly because of weather changes and ski/snowboard use. Bare spots, stumps, ice, variations in terrain, moguls, forest growth, rocks and debris, lift towers, snowmaking and grooming equipment and other natural and man-made obstacles and hazards may exist throughout the area. You must assume the risks of personal injury and death related to participation in recreational activities within this ski area. Violators of hit-and-run skiing may be prosecuted under Section 653-i of the California State Penal Code. It is unlawful for persons under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence, to ski in a ski area (Sec. 12.134, Placer County ordinance).

Do not ski into “CLOSED” areas or beyond ski area boundaries; you may be prosecuted (CC 602.Q) or held liable for the cost of search and rescue.

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