Top Beginner Tips for Riding the Chairlift

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Modern skiing would be nowhere without the chairlift. But if you’ve never ridden one, getting on and off can seem intimidating. With the help of your instructor and the lift attendant, you’ll master the chairlift in no time. Here are a few tips on what to expect:

Getting On

  • Once you enter the lift maze (i.e., the line of skiers and snowboarders waiting to board the lift), shuffle or glide your skis or snowboard to keep moving along with the line. Depending on how many people the lift seats (from two to six), team up with others in your class—no need to ride the lift alone.
  • Remove your hands from your ski pole straps, if you have poles.
  • When you reach the front of the line, wait until the group in front of you boards its chair. A sign and/or line in the snow will indicate where you should wait.
  • As soon as the group in front of you is safely on its way, shuffle forward to the next mark in the snow. You’ll wait here for the chair to come up behind you.
  • Hold poles, if you have them, in your inside hand and look over your outside shoulder at the chair. Unsure about anything? Ask the lift attendant for help. That’s what they’re there for.
  • Sit down and back, just as if you’re easing yourself into a regular chair.
  • Ask your fellow chairlift riders if everyone is ready to lower the safety bar, then bring it down.
  • Enjoy the ride!
Two Creeks Lift

Photo by Jeremy Swanson

Getting Off

  • As you near the top of the lift, make sure that your gloves, poles, scarf, etc., are free of the safety bar and chair.
  • Lift up the safety bar shortly before you reach the unloading station; a sign on one of the lift towers (which support the cables that hold the chairs) will indicate the best spot to do this.
  • Lift up your ski tips or snowboard as the chair approaches the unloading station. Slowly stand up, glide down the ramp, and head left or right (your instructor will have told you which way to go). Your job is to clear the unloading area for the next group of lift riders. If you drop a pole or anything else while getting off the lift, keep skiing down the ramp and out of the way. The lift attendant will pick up the dropped item for you.

Congratulations! You are king/queen of the mountain.