So, you want to go skiing, but have never done so before. You read up on all the different kinds of skiing equipment as well as ski resorts, looked for the best prices on ski lift tickets, and even took a few lessons to prevent any mishaps once on the slopes.
However, accidents can occur even before you reach the summit. Ski lift accidents and falls, while admittedly rare due to all the safety mechanisms in place, can happen to anyone who is ill-prepared for them.
In order to understand how to prevent such accidents, you must first be aware that there are different types of ski lifts, with different rules and regulations for getting on and off of each.
Let’s take a look at some of those here.
Types of Ski Lifts
Magic carpets are basically conveyor belts that take you up gentler slopes. You can step on and off the carpet with little trouble.
Poma lifts, or button lifts, are a bit trickier. These carry only one person at a time.
You must hold on to the pulley with one hand and both your ski poles with the other. Tuck the circular seat between your legs and it will carry you up the slope.
T-bar lifts operate in much the same way button lifts do – only, the seat is a bar shaped like a T.
Two people can use this lift, as they tuck either end of the T beneath their legs to let it carry them up the mountain.
Like the button lift, you can regulate the speed as necessary for your comfort when dismounting.
Now we’re delving into more advanced terrain, with a ski lift designed for steeper slopes. Chairlifts can fit anywhere from two to eight people.
These are the most common form of ski lift, and the most variable as well.
Older types will move at a consistent speed without stopping, while newer designs will slow down to give you time for boarding or disembarking.
To get on a chairlift, you must hold your ski poles in one hand while looking back to watch the chair approach. Keep one hand behind your legs to prevent the ski lift chair from hitting you before you sit down.
If you encounter the old, set-speed model, this process may be challenging. If you have any trouble, however, it is advised to ask the lift operator to slow down the chairlift, if they can.
Once you and a few other skiers are safely onboard, make sure to lift your skis up until you and the other skiers are off the platform. Make sure everyone is ready to pull down the restraint bar (typically located above the chairlift) over themselves and enjoy the ride.
There will be signs near the top of the slope that warn you when it’s time to dismount. Make sure everyone is prepared to raise the bar at the same time near the top, so no one is caught off guard.
Lift your skis up as you approach the platform, and then use your free hand to push yourself away from the chair and onto solid ground. After this, move safely to the side, that way other passengers coming up the slope behind you may get off too.
Again, if you need assistance getting off, the lift operators will slow down or stop the lift altogether to help you out.
Once you are far enough away from the ski lift, you may then strap your ski poles to both your hands and ski away!
Gondolas and Cable Cars
Gondolas and cable cars are able to hold multiple people at once (even up to 50 at the maximum) in an enclosed capsule that carries you up the slope.
Getting on and off these lifts will be no more difficult than stepping in and out. Be sure you take off your skis before entering, and tuck them to the side as you ride.
Some resorts also utilize railways to take skiers up mountains. Much like the gondolas or cable cars, you just need to step in and out of the train, removing your skis before entering.
While all types of ski lifts have rigorous safety measures in place, ski lift accidents do occur, particularly in the widely-used chairlift.
According to the National Ski Areas Association, about 86 percent of ski lift accidents or falls are due to human error – meaning they are preventable.
So, how do you stay safe?
Basic Ski Lift Riding Rules
- One of the most important rules is to pay attention at all times, so you are ready once you reach the top of the slope. There are signs posted near the summit that alert you of when to remove the restraint bar, so be sure everyone on the ski lift chair raises it at the same time to prevent injury.
- Keep all valuables, including any bags or backpacks, on your lap to prevent them from getting snagged on the chair. This also applies to loose clothing or hair.
- Do not engage in horseplay with other skiers while on the lift, as this may cause one or more passengers and their valuables to fall. Children are especially at risk for falling should this occur, so have any children accompanying you lean back in their seats at all times.
- If you happen to be riding a chairlift solo, be sure to sit as close to the middle as possible, so as to keep the chair balanced as you ride up the slope.
It is very easy to prevent such accidents, so be sure to always follow the ski lift rules!
Here’s a video showing how to get off a ski lift with a snowboard.
Do you have any tips for getting off a ski lift safely?