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How to Load, Ride and Unload a Chairlift

lift-at-sunrise (lift-at-sunrise)

At age ten my parents attached my feet to a pair of skis, pointed me in the direction of a ski instructor and then sprinted off to the tubing hill. As a beginner, I learned that one of the most intimidating aspects of the sport was getting on and off of the ski lift.

jupiter-lift (jupiter-lift)

Today, as an experienced skier and snowboarder, as well as a lift operator at Park City Mountain Resort, I realize that riding a chairlift is not nearly as difficult as I first thought it was. Watching hundreds of people get onto the lift every day, I’ve seen just about every simple mistake that can be made while loading (getting onto) or unloading (getting off of) the chair. So here are some simple tips to keep in mind in order to have a successful ride on a chairlift.

Loading the chair:

  • If you think you need the chair slowed at the bottom or top, feel free to ask the lift operator. The lift operator might even ask if you need a “slow load” or “slow unload”, this basically means that they will slow the chair down when you are loading or unloading from it.
  • Line up together at the red line.
  • Make sure your pole straps are off your wrists.
  • As the chair approaches, look over your outside should and grab the bar or backrest.
  • When the chair touches the back of your legs, just sit down.
  • Sit all the way back in the chair and make sure young kids know how to use their hands to push their rear ends to the back of the chair.

Unloading the chair:

  • Stand up when your feet are on the ground. You want to stand up when your feet are on the flat snow, this way you are ready for the downward slope that follows.
  • Do not try to slow down or stop as soon as you push away from the chair. You want to move away from the chair after getting off, this means keeping your skis straight and keeping your back foot on the snowboard (don't try to skate away from the chair).

lift-signs1 (lift-signs1)Before and during the ride:

  • As you approach the lift look for signs. You will find many signs with tips, general rules, and warnings about the ability level of the lift or the runs that it leads to.
  • Watch the people in the line in front of you as you approach the chair. By doing this you can see how the more experienced riders load the chair, and then imitate their actions.
  • Communicate with the lift operator (or lifty). If you are nervous, tell the lifty. If you think you need assistance, tell the lifty. If you just don't know exactly what to do, ask the lifty. 
  • If the chairlift has a bar, don't be afraid to use it.


As Lift Operators at PCMR, our top priority is your safety while riding the chairlift. We also want you to feel comfortable with your riding experience, so keep these tips in mind and enjoy the ride.

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