Don't want to end up as ski-tartare for ravenous wolves, with a case of stage-three hypothermia, or forced to use your own tibia as a crutch to hobble down to base lodge? Here are a few (mostly) fail-safe SKI DON'TS to abide when you go out to shred some fresh powder.
•DON'T forget that it's called "après ski" for a reason. There's nothing wrong with enjoying a frosty brew or three after a long day on the slopes (and, in fact, most skiers would argue it's compulsory), but it's safe to say that strapping one on before strapping yourself to a pair of slippery boards and hurling yourself down a mountain is just plain irresponsible. While we're on the subject, DON'T go ordering yourself any fruity cocktails at the ski-lodge bar. Après ski is for heady lagers and heady lagers alone. It is a mountain sport, after all.
•DON'T be embarrassed to wear a helmet. True, there was a time that people thought that skiers in helmets looked douchey. But now you're a douche (and an idiot) if you don't don some protective headgear. Helmets are right up there with gloves on the list of necessary ski apparel these days. And you're really going to need it if you choose to ignore the previous DON'T.
•DON'T ski in jeans. It says, "I'm from New Jersey." It's always said, "I'm from New Jersey." It always will say, "I'm from New Jersey." On a safety note, your ass is going to get really freaking wet and cold from all those wipe-outs. (If you're wearing jeans on a ski mountain, we assume that it's your first time . . . Jersey.)
•DON'T ski or board with headphones on. We know it's tempting to pump some chill tunes through your iPod as you're shredding up the mountain. It helps get you in the groove (and makes you feel like you're starring in your own personal demo video, just saying) but it also renders you completely unaware of your surroundings. And you're going to want to hear that huge dude coming up behind you (the one in the jeans) flailing his ski poles and screaming, "On your left, on your left!"
•DON'T be that guy. The guy who taunts less-experienced riders from the lift, leaves the chairlift safety bar up to prove what a badass he is, and thinks it's funny to spray fellow skiers with ice pellets as he cuts his turns way too close in some lame approximation of humor. It's not funny. And if you don't fall off the lift or eat it as you ride irresponsibly, you might just get punched in the face. DON'T think you won't.
MORE: Ski and Snowboard Guide 2011