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Types of Ski Lift

There are a few different types of ski lift that you might encounter on your travels and these pages should help you avoid some rooky errors. Resorts don’t always have every type of lift - so we have split this overview into useful sections for you! 

We’re not going to go into details about the mechanical engineering of the lifts. It strikes us that it’s more useful to know how to get on and off them. If you’re here because you want to build a lift, you’re probably in the wrong place.

Drag Lifts

Drag lifts come in a few different flavours, the common thread being that your feet stay on the ground while you get moved from one place to another (not always up the hill – sometimes they are used for flat sections). These can be tiring so generally are not very long.

  • Travellator / Magic Carpet – a moving walkway that you stand on (similar to some airports). More details
  • Rope – a rope to hold onto which drags you along (possibly with bars to make it easier). More details
  • Button (aka “Poma”) – A hanging pole with a disc on the end. It looks suspiciously like a seat, but don’t be fooled, the disc goes between your legs and drags you along while you are standing [More details soon]
  • T-Bar – An upside down T shape lift that looks a bit like an oversized ice pick. Although it is designed to take two people, it’s a lot easier if the riders are a similar height. [More details soon]

Aerial lifts

On aerial lifts you are lifted into the air and carried up the hill. Far less tiring than using a drag lift, they are used to transport people over medium distances. Some longer lifts are split into stages so you can get off at mid way points.

  • Chair lift – Leave your skis on, sit down and take the load off your feet while you take in the beautiful scenery (or chat up the person sitting next to you.) Our favourite type of lift. [More details soon]
  • Cable Car / Bubble / Gondola – Technically there are loads of different types of these, but we group them together as you ride them the same way. Skis off, jump on and enjoy the view. [More details soon]
  • Chubble / Chondola – Chairs and bubbles alternating on the same cable with separate queues. (Useful tip - if everyone in front of you is carrying their skis you are queuing for the bubble.) [More details soon]
  • Lobster pot - An open air lift where you take your skis off and stand.  [More details soon]
  • Helicopter – Not a lift as such, but a way of getting up the mountain for heli-skiing. I don’t think we need to explain what a helicopter is, and if you go heli-skiing you’ll be given a full briefing before you fly.

Rail Lifts

Just like getting on a train, but with your skis in hand. Typically these cover long distances.

  • Funicular – A train up and down the mountain, sometimes in tunnels or on viaducts. [More details soon]

Lift queue etiquette

A quick note on lift queue etiquette: We all know how to queue properly. For example, in a supermarket you should wait patiently in line behind the people who beat you there. Well, it turns out that not everyone got the memo on how to queue properly, so you may experience some cutting in when waiting for a lift. Our advice here is to make sure you’re assertive about not being pushed around, but don’t be tempted to push in yourself – in some resorts you can have your lift pass taken from you by the staff if you try to queue jump. And please remember, stabbing queue jumpers with a ski pole is a definite no-no.