The T Bar is an old-school type of ski lift that is simple in design but not always so simple to use if you’ve never tried it before. You’ve probably seen one of these at a ski resort, but not every skier knows what it is or how to ride it.
I’ve been skiing for decades and have seen ski technology come a long way over the years. I’ve been on all types of ski lifts, and I know how to ride a T Bar effectively.
In this post, I’ll explain what exactly a T Bar is and how to use it effectively on your skis. My goal is to equip you with the skills to get on the lift without worries and access whatever terrain is at the top.
Let’s get in line and get started.
What is a T Bar?
If you are new to skiing, you might not realize that there are more lifts than a standard chair lift. A T Bar is one of these alternative lifts, and it has existed for longer than regular chair lifts.
From a very simple perspective, a T Bar has the same function as any other chair lift – to get you to the top of an area so you can ski back down. The infrastructure might look the same but using a T Bar involves a bit more skill than simply sitting down on a padded chair.
The main difference between a T Bar and a regular chair lift is that you don’t really sit down when using a T Bar. Instead, you position the bar behind you and let it pull you uphill while your skis are still touching the ground.
It’s an effective way to move skiers uphill, and even though it’s older technology, you’ll still see a T Bar at many resorts around the world. Sometimes these are old lifts that haven’t been improved, and other times a T Bar can be used in areas where a regular chairlift won’t work.
T Bars aren’t as impacted by high winds, so you’ll often see them in high elevation areas at the resort. They will allow you to access great terrain without the worry of the wind blowing the chair off the tracks. It’s a good alternative and a safety measure in some cases.
A T Bar lift looks more like an upside-down T. The top extended part of the bar is at the bottom and allows you to place your backside on it so that the pulling nature of the cable will pull you easily uphill.
A single T Bar can hold either one or two skiers, depending on how crowded the lift line is and the capabilities of the skiers at dealing with the T Bar. You can place the bar between your legs or keep it off to one side.
How to Use a T Bar On Skis
Now that you know what a T Bar is, it’s time to explain how to use it. This type of lift can be somewhat intimidating for newbies, but it’s not all that difficult. You just might need to try it a few times before you get the hang of it.
I’ll list some step-by-step instructions below, but it’s essential to understand a few things first. Practice makes perfect – you can read all you want about T Bars, but until you get out there and try it, you won’t know how to ride it for sure.
Another piece of advice is to watch other skiers in the lift line for a while before attempting to do it yourself. This will help you get the feel of it and learn the proper technique.
To use a T Bar on skis, follow these steps:
- Wait in the lift line until it’s your turn to approach the loading area.
- Take your poles off your hands and hold them in the outside hand away from the T Bar.
- When it’s your turn, push yourself into the loading area or wherever the lift operator directs you.
- Turn your head towards the inside of the T Bar. This could be either direction based on which side of the bar you are on.
- As the bar approaches, reach out with your inside free hand and grab it.
- If you are riding alone, place the bar between your legs and let it carry you uphill. If you are riding with another skier, put the end of the bar on your side behind your butt and let it pull you uphill.
- Be sure to hang on tight as you go uphill. You want to make sure not to cross your skis or get out of the track that has been groomed by other skiers heading uphill.
- When you approach the top, simply ski down the ramp and let the bar lift up away from you. If you are riding solo, you’ll need to pull the bar from in between your legs and then let it go.
TIPS: If you happen to fall off the bar (which happens all the time, so don’t worry!), get out of the way as quickly as possible, so you don’t pull other skiers off with you. You can simply ski down and out of the way and catch another bar up to the top.
A T Bar is a less common ski lift that every skier should still know how to use. If you follow the steps listed here, you’ll be able to get the hang of it in no time and use the lift to access a lot of great terrain.