Chairlift Loading Safety

First, my apologies to everyone I was hollerin’ to this morning at the bottom of the Green Valley lift.   Shouting  under a noisy bullwheel isn’t a great way to communicate, so let me explain it further here, what I was trying to convey.


Chairlifts, particularly the detachable lifts, are big heavy machines.  Kind of like a truck loaded with concrete, they can’t stop quick and they don’t cut you a lot of slack if you get in their way.


With all the dumpage we’ve had lately, the snow in the corral just above the loading area was high.   I was digging like crazy to clear it out, but was surprised how many people didn’t know “good high snow etiquette” and almost got yanked out of the chair.

We currently have 9 feet of snow on the ground and my hunch is there’s a lot more to come.  With the kind of storms we get here, “expert” lift riding in high snow conditions is part of your responsibility–especially if you ride our ridge lifts like High Campbell and Northway.  Here are some tips for lift riding when the snow is close to you feet:

  1. Head up and eyes forward when you load the lift.  (Actually, this should be what you do ALL the time.)
  2. If you’re a snowboarder, keep your board parallel with the direction of movement, with your unstrapped binding to the rear.  If that toe-side edge grabs a little snow, you’ll be surprised how quickly you twist your ankle–twist your knee–bruise your back as you get raked out of the seat and faceplant .  (And hopefully the next chair’s ski tips don’t come along and jab ya’ in the butt!)
  3. If you’re a skier, push your feet forward so your calves don’t get pinched between the chair and your boot tops.  Keep your skis flat on the snow and straight ahead.  Play around with “cutting turns” on the snow, and you’ll be waiting at the top for someone to retrieve your ski while your buddies leave you behind.
  4. Pole straps off your wrists if you want to keep your arms.
  5. Looking back to gaze longingly at  the pole you dropped on the ramp won’t get it to you any faster, but just may result in enough of a sideways twist that you’ll get yanked out of the chair.  It doesn’t hurt to yell “send it up” or “I’ll come get it” so the lift operator knows what to do with it, but it’s noisy under the bullwheel so they may not hear you.
  6. And as always, don’t turn or twist or horse around.  Keep your butt cheeks square in the chair and your back against the backrest to obey the chairlift safety mantra:  Seat-to-seat & back-to-back.


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