How To Ride Ski Lifts

Using the ski lift

Ski lifts are an integral part of snow skiing and will continue to be so for some time to come. In order to enjoy a ski vacation it is important to learn how to ride a ski lift. There are three primary types of ski lifts that can be found on most ski slopes: a pommel lift, an open chair lift, and a closed chair lift.

  • A pommel lift is the most basic ski lift to ride and is generally found on beginner or less steep ski slopes. A pommel lift is nothing more than a cable supporting a long pole, at the base of which is a seat. In many cases the long pole attached to the cable is spring loaded in order to cushion the rider and make the lift easier to mount.

    As the pole and seat makes its way around the base of the lift, the skiers will arrange themselves into the path of the cable, grasp hold of the pole, extend the spring, and set the base of the seat of the pommel lift between their legs. The skier will feel an immediate jerking motion, which for a beginner can be unnerving. However, the key to staying on a pommel lift is simply to keep the ski tips pointed uphill and to hold onto the pole. Exiting requires nothing more than standing up and allowing the pole and spring to retract away from the rider.

  • A chair ski lift is far easier to use and enter, and has a much more consistent and smooth ride than a pommel lift. Where a pommel lift can be jerky and daunting, using a chair ski lift requires nothing more than taking a seat at the right time when the chair swings around at the base of the lift. Again, the key to a successful entrance and exit is to keep the ski tips pointing forward as much as possible. Once airborne, most chair lifts offer riders a foothold to rest their skis and a bar to secure the passengers inside. Exit is done by standing up and skiing straight down and away from the chair.
  • A covered chair lift is similar to an open lift except that when airborne there is a windshield or cowling that can be lowered to completely cover the occupants. Mounting and dismounting this style of chair lift is identical to an open chair lift.


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