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Safety on the Mountain

Mountain Safety & Guidelines

Northstar Medical Clinic

A full-service urgent care medical clinic is available in the Village at Northstar seven days a week during the ski season. The Northstar Medical Clinic has a physicianon-site trained in family medicine and sports medicine and can accommodate most medical needs, including xray, casting, and suturing. Their in-house pharmacymeans your illness or injury can often be well-cared for without leaving the Village. 

The clinic also provides services for any injured guest. Guests brought to the Village by ski patrol will be brought to this clinic to assess injuries and unite with family or friends.

Phone: 530.582.6594

Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (winter season only)

Site: Northstar Medical Clinic

Heads Up - Know the Code, It's Your Responsibility

At Northstar California Resort, we take safety very seriously.  Our mission is to ensure that all guests and employees are aware of the Skier Responsibility Code, thereby making our slopes safer for all.

Our Mountain Safety Team is always out there on the slopes ready and willing to help everyone stay safe and enjoy their day. You can help the Mountain Safety Team by skiing or riding in control, by staying in bounds, and by using common sense and courtesy while on our mountains.

Northstar reminds you that every winter sport participant shares responsibility for his or her safety and for that of others using the ski area facilities.

Your Responsibility Code

Northstar is committed to promoting skier safety. In addition to people using traditional alpine ski equipment, you may be joined on the slopes by snowboarders, telemark skiers or cross-country skiers, skiers with disabilities, skiers with specialized equipment and others. 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 other skiers the responsibility for a great skiing experience.

  • 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.

Skin Protection

-    With every 3,000’ increase in altitude, UV levels rise by 10% -12%. We recommend Smith Optics eye protection and Supergoop! Broad Spectrum suncare products to ensure protection from UV rays.

-    Do I really need to wear sunscreen everyday? Even in the winter? Yes! UVA rays are present with relatively equal intensity during all daylight hours throughout the year. Even if you are not going outside frequently, UVA rays can penetrate clouds and even glass.

-    How often should I reapply my sunscreen? The first application of the day is the most important and it is crucial to take the time to do it properly. Many things can affect the need to reapply sunscreen—excessive sweating, toweling off, wind, and swimming all hamper the ability for sunscreen to remain on the skin and make reapplication important.
Sunscreen should be reapplied immediately after towel drying; after 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating (depending on the time noted on the label); at least every 2 hours.

Unmarked Obstacles

Be advised that all poles and/or flags, fencing, signage and padding on equipment or objects or other forms of marking devices are used by the ski area to inform you of the presence or location of a potential obstacle or hazard. These markers are no guarantee of your safety and will not protect you from injury. It is part of your responsibility under Your Responsibility Code to avoid all obstacles or hazards, including those that are so marked.

Trail Designations

Skiers should be advised that a green circle, blue square, single or double black diamond, or orange oval at Northstar is not necessarily the same as a similar designation at other resorts. The system is a relative system, valid only at this area, and skiers should work their way up, beginning with the easiest trails no matter what their ability level may be, until they are familiar with the trails at the area. California State Penal Code. The following misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $1000: Skiing within or entering a closed area (PC 602r); Leaving an accident scene if involved in a collision, except to notify authorities or obtain assistance (PC 653i).

Slow Zones

Slow Zones Certain areas (indicated on the map in yellow) are designated as SLOW ZONES. Please observe the posted slow areas by maintaining a speed no faster than the general flow of traffic. Space and speed are especially important in these areas. Fast and aggressive skiing will not be tolerated and may result in termination of skiing/riding privileges.

Ski Safety

Under the law, any individual who engages in the sport of skiing, alpine or nordic, or any person who is within the boundaries of a ski area for the purpose of observing any skiing activity, accepts and assumes the inherent risk of skiing insofar as they are reasonably obvious, expected or necessary. Inherent risks of skiing include, but are not limited to, those dangers or conditions which are an integral part of the sport, and can also include changing weather conditions, variation or steepness of terrain, snow or ice conditions, surface or subsurface conditions, whether man-modified or not, bare spots, creeks, gully, forest growth or rocks, stumps, lift towers and other structures and their components, collision with other skiers and a skier's failure to ski within the skier's own ability.

Sliding Devices


Vail Resorts allows the following sliding devices at our resorts. This list is subject to change at any time and may have slight variations at each resort.

  • SKIS:  Allowed with a working brake binding system or a retention device.
  • SNOWBOARDS: Allowed with a retention device (Snowboard binding considered ok)
  • TELEMARK SKIS: Allowed with a retention device or a working brake system. (Please be aware of releasbale telemark bindings as they typically do not have a retention device)
  • MONOSKIS: Allowed with a working brake system or retention device.
  • SNOWBLADES (figgles): Allowed with a retention device.
  • SKIBIKES/SNOWBIKES: Allowed under following parameters:
    • Bike must have no more than two (2) skis.
    • Must have metaledges on skis.
    • Only one (1) rider per bike.
    • Must be designed to load lift without slowing or stopping.
    • Must be loaded within envelope of chair; bike counts as a rider on chair lift.
    • No homemade bikes.
    • NOT allowed in Terrain Parks.
    • MUST wear a leash at all times (on lifts & on slope)
    • May be restricted in certain areas and lifts for safety concerns.
  • SNOWDECKS: Allowed, but must have metal edges and a leash.
  • SNOWSHOES: Allowed on designated lifts.


Below are a few examples of what Vail Resorts does NOT allow for alternative sliding devices at our resorts which includes but not limited to the following devices

  • SNOW TRIKES: NOT Allowed: neither sit down nor stand up versions (too wide of a foot print to load/unload chairlifts safely) 
  • SNOWBIKES (bicycle conversion): NOT Allowed (bikes not allowed to have gears/chain/wheels/tires or crank assembly)
  • PLASTIC SNOWBOARDS: NOT Allowed (plastic snowboards that do not have metal edges)
  • SLEDS/DISCS: NOT Allowed
  • TOBOGGANS/TUBES: NOT Allowed (except in designated venues, i.e. Adventure Ridge, Point, etc.) 

"Smart Style" in Freestyle Terrain

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. Learn more about the Smart Style terrain park safety initiative below. For more information go to  www.TerrainParkSafety.org.

  • Make A Plan. Every time you use Freestyle Terrain, make a plan for each feature you want to use. Your speed, approach and takeoff 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.

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.

Freestyle Terrain has designations for size. Start small and work your way up. Designations are relative to this ski area.

Freestyle Sizes

Electronic Devices

Vail Resorts 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.

Lift Safety

Under the law, 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 use the lift safely. You may not use a lift or any ski trail when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Helmet Use

Northstar encourages our guests to wear a helmet. While helmets may mitigate or reduce the severity of some head injuries, their use does not guarantee safety and will not prevent certain injuries.

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! Check out some of these resources for more info:

Lids on Kids


Snowcats + Snowmobiles

CAUTION: Snowcats, snowmobiles and snowmaking may be encountered at any time.

Backcountry Warning

The ski area abuts US Forest Service land that may be beyond the ski area boundary. The ski area assumes no responsibility for individuals who elect to go into the backcountry terrain beyond the ski area boundary. To access the backcountry, use designated gates only. Areas beyond the ski area boundary are not patrolled or maintained. Avalanches, unmarked obstacles and other natural hazards exist.

Be Aware: The backcountry avalanche hazard may be extreme. Rescue in the backcountry, if available, is the responsibility of the County Sheriff. It will be costly and may take time. If a sign indicates the area beyond the sign is closed, do not ski in the terrain beyond the sign. Skiing in closed areas is against the law and you may be criminally prosecuted.

Deep Snow Safety + Tree Wells

The most important prevention step is to remain on groomed runs, resisting the urge to ski or snowboard through the trees during deep powder conditions, no matter how inviting the untracked powder looks.  If you choose to ski or snowboard in the ungroomed, 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, and 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 SIGHT OF YOUR PARTNER, YOU COULD LOSE YOUR FRIEND.
  • Carry Backcountry Gear. Carry the same personal rescue gear as backcountry skiers or snowboarders: Transceiver, Shovel, Probe, and Whistle.
  • 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.

Uphill Access Guidelines

Northstar California is located on private property. A valid pass to use or enter this property is required. Use of this property is limited to published operating dates, times and guidelines.

Public use of this property is limited to downhill traffic only and guidelines set forth by Northstar. Right to pass will be by express permission and subject to control by land use manager.

Non-paid/Uphill users of Northstar assume all risks associated with access. The ski area is not maintained for uphill access and trails are not patrolled outside normal ski area operating hours, therefore emergency services may not be available. Ski area operations are 24 hours and users my encounter vehicles, slope and trail maintenance activities, snowmaking, snow cat winching and other hazards not typically present during operating hours.

  • Uphill access is only approved during authorized special events.
  • These events will have a prescribed/authorized uphill access walking lane.
  • All approved special events will have posted authorized uphill times.
  • Dogs, other than Certified Service Dogs, are not allowed in or on the skiing/riding area of the resort.

Early Season Guidelines: Uphill access will not be allowed on ski trails, bike trails or mountain service roads during mountain preparation/early season operations.

High-Altitude Environment

Some visitors may experience symptoms associated with Northstar's high altitude. Symptoms may include headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, restless sleep, coughing and difficulty in breathing. If symptoms persist or if you have a concern about your health, you should seek medical attention.

Protect Your Skiing + Riding

Northstar would like to remind you that your ticket or pass is non-transferable and may not be resold or used by anyone other than the person to whom it was issued. Please report lost or stolen passes to resort staff or law enforcement immediately. Resort staff may ask you to show your pass or ticket at any time. Failure to show a valid pass or ticket or engaging in fraudulent behavior of any kind may result in loss of skiing and riding privileges or criminal prosecution.

On-Hill Emergency Contact

Ski patrollers and mountain safety hosts are stationed at the top of major chairlifts. The first-aid room is serviced by Tahoe Forest Health System and is located on the lower level of the Northstar Club building in the Village at Northstar. Report all accidents to the attendant at the bottom or top of the nearest chairlift.  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 530.562.3444. 

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. 9.28.020-80, 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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