How to Get On and Off a Ski Lift?

There are plenty of new skills that you need to learn when you first start skiing. Some are picked up rather easily while others can take years to perfect. The benefits of practice, patience, and time on the snow will always increase your skills.

One of the most important skills that every skier needs to learn before even getting a hand at the basics is how to get on and off a ski lift. Without this ability, you’ll never make it up to the top of a run to begin skiing in the first place.

How to Get On and Off a Ski Lift

In this post, we’ll take a look at some basic tips and instructions to help you quickly pick up this important skiing skill so you can get focus on your technique and form.

Initial Considerations

First things first, getting on a ski lift is not that difficult. Even so, it certainly can be intimidating for anyone making the attempt for the first time.

One thing I tell anyone I’m teaching to ski for the first time is, “Don’t overthink it.” Basically, what I’m trying to stress is that even though you have skis attached to your feet, you’re still just sitting down.

It’s not all that different from sitting in a regular chair, except it’s moving.

The Approach

More likely than not, you’ll be waiting in a line before it’s your turn to get on the lift. Just follow the natural flow of the line and any instructions from the lift operators or other ski resort personnel that are around.

When you get close, make sure to pay attention to the skiers and the lift. Also, limit any distractions that will keep you from focusing on the task at hand. Being ready and alert is the first key step to a successful attempt.

The same advice goes for when you’re approaching the top of the lift and it’s time to get off. Make sure you stop talking to any of your friends and get yourself focused or else you might get taken by surprise.

As you get more skilled, you won’t have to pay as much attention, but initially, focus is very important.

Getting On a Ski Lift

  1. When you’re nearing your turn to get on a ski lift, focus on the group of skiers in front of you as they get on.
  2. Once their chair passes in front of you it’s your turn to go up to the ‘Wait Here’ line.
  3. Push with your poles gently to follow the chair as it passes you by.
  4. Once you near the ‘Wait Here’ line slow yourself down by using the pizza wedge or your poles and stand with your feet directly on top of this line.
  5. Place both of your poles in one hand so you have another free hand to help you sit down.
  6. Look over your shoulder in whichever direction is closer to either edge of the chair and watch for the approaching chair.
  7. As the chair approaches, bend your knees slightly and anticipate the movement as it gets closer.
  8. When the chair is within sitting range, sit down naturally and grab onto the outside bar if that helps you remain stable.
  9. Sit down completely and make sure you’re completely on the seat of the chair. Adjust your body back if necessary.
  10. Lower the safety bar if the chair has one and you’re off!

Getting Off a Ski Lift

  1. When you can see the top of the chair lift, it’s time to begin getting ready to get off of it.
  2. Check all of your clothing and equipment to make sure that nothing has gotten stuck or attached to any part of the chair while you were riding uphill.
  3. If your chair has a safety bar, lift it up in anticipation of exiting the chair. Make sure to check with other skiers on the chair to make sure they are ready for the safety bar to lift.
  4. You might see a lift column with a sign on it instructing you of steps 2 and 3.
  5. Hold your poles as you normally would skiing, or hold them in one hand parallel to the ground if you find that more comfortable.
  6. You will see a small sign in the snow or at the side of the exit area that says ‘Stand Here’ as you approach the top.
  7. Get ready to stand up but do not fully extend until you reach that mark as described above.
  8. When you are directly in line with the ‘Stand Here’ mark, go ahead and gently stand up.
  9. You will be on a slight slope and naturally begin to ski out of the exit area.
  10. Be sure to move away from the exit area so you are not blocking other skiers who are getting off of the lift after you.

Additional Considerations

Don’t be worried if you get nervous or scared on your first attempt at getting on or off a ski lift. That’s completely natural. You’ll become more comfortable with it the more often you make the attempt.

It can be intimidating for sure, but once you do it a few times, you’ll quickly realize that it’s not all that difficult even if you aren’t a great skier yet.

Also, if you happen to fall or mess up when you’re attempting to get on or off a ski lift, don’t worry about it that much either. It can be embarrassing, but don’t let it mess up the rest of your ski day.

I’m an expert skier and I still fall getting on or off the ski lift a few times every season. It happens, but it’s no big deal.

If you’re feeling nervous or scared about getting on or off the ski lift, you can always ask the lift operators to slow the lift down for you. This happens often and all you need to do is ask them or make a hand signal indicating that you want them to take it easy.

Final Thoughts

If you want to learn how to ski, you need to know how to get on and off a ski lift. Read through the steps above to get a general idea of the process, but know that there’s no one exact right or wrong way to do it.

If it’s your first day on the mountain, you’ll be far more familiar with the process by the end of it and it will feel natural from there on out. Just remember to not get frustrated if you mess up. It’s all part of the learning experience!

Do you remember learning how to get on and off a ski lift? Do you have any advice for skiers who are just learning? Let me know in the comments below.

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