Ski School Part 2: Getting on and off the Chairlift

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Chairlifts – you’ve got to love them.  I mean obviously you don’t want to be hiking up the hill after each run, but as a parent skiing with kids, it can be a little tricky.

Personally, I was scared to death of chairlifts growing up.  It had everything to do with the fact that I was tiny, had slick snowpants on and my grandpa (though he was awesome) must not have felt the need to hold onto me.  Yes, I fell off several times (though always close to the beginning or the end, thankfully).  Um, yes I’m a little traumatized by that, and tell my kids about it regularly to scare them into behaving on the lift!  Oh, sorry, let’s talk about how to get on.

First of all, if you have the option, go for a magic carpet (aka surface lift) first.  These nifty inventions are popping up at resorts all over lately and are essentially the skiers version of the airport moving walkway.  conveniently they also usually access a resorts easiest terrain, so if you have the option start there!

Once you’re ready to head up the hill, explain a few things to your child before you hop in the line.  Here’s what a conversation might look like:

“Okay, we’re going to go on a big ride on the chairlift now.  Here’s what we’re going to do.  We’re going to watch the chairs and when I say, we’re going to go and chase the chair in front of us until we get to the yellow line (or red/blue/green…whatever color the line is that says stand here).”

Chasing out the chair in front of you will give you lots of time to get ready before you have to get on.  If you or your child is nervous, this is the time to tell the lift operator and ask them to slow it down and for help if you need it (you can also ask the operator at the bottom to slow it down when you get to the top automatically)

“When we get out to the line, turn around and reach your hand all the way behind you.  When the chair is almost to you, grab onto the back of it and pull yourself on so that you’re sitting on it”

This is an especially important step to teach.  Kids need to know that they need to pull themselves on since often, if they just try to sit, they’ll get knocked over.  For taller kids (usually 7+) have them grab onto the top of the chairback.  Shorter and younger kids should grab between the seat and chairback where the gap is.  Obviously this takes lots of practice, so be prepared to give them a boost and/or shove their little butts back!

“As soon as we get on, I’m going to put a bar down and then we’re going to go really high up in the air to we can go up to the top”

This would be the appropriate time to talk to your kids about holding still and that if they don’t, they might fall.  Feel free to use bribes, games, stories, or possibly traumatic stories of when you fell off the lift as a child to help them get it!

“When we get up to the top, I will lift the bar up, and count to three and we will stand up on the line.  As soon as we stand up, we have to scoot away as fast as we can so we aren’t in the way of the people behind us.”

Yes, don’t just got off and stop, unless you want your kid to get plowed over by the people on the next chair – MOVE.


Here are a few videos that show how to do this well:


About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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