First Chair, Last Call

By Jeff Cavagnino

Riding a chair lift is one of the safest forms of transportation available.  VT Tramway regulations strictly govern our lift system here at the mountain.  They are routinely inspected and monitored by our Lift Inspector.  Stratton’s lift mechanics have close to 150 years of combined experience and each has developed a special bond with their assigned lift.  They are one of the best mechanic teams in VT and strive to provide a safe experience for all.

In order to ensure a safe chairlift ride you should always follow the direction given by signage and the lift operators.  As stated in the NSAA code of conduct it is your responsibility to understand and know how to ride a chairlift safely and to do so.

For beginners, it may be a good idea to stand outside the lift line and watch other skiers and boarders line up and load the chairlift. Once in line, follow those ahead of you and stop at the “Wait Here” marker. Stop until it is your turn to move into the loading area. Once the people ahead of you have moved forward onto the loading area and their chair has passed in front of you, you should quickly follow behind the previous chair and move to the “Load Here” marker. Wait and watch as the approaching chair circles toward you for loading.

  • It’s okay to take your time. You should load onto a chair seat when you are ready.
  • It is okay to ask the lift attendant to slow the speed of the lift before loading or for help. Plan ahead as chairlifts do not automatically stop on a dime.

Once on the lift, you should sit back as far as possible and never lean forward toward the edge of the seat.  A helpful reminder for children is “back to back” – sit all the way to the back of the chair with your back to the back of the seat. Once everyone’s sitting correctly the restraining bar should be lowered. Make sure everyone riding is aware that the bar is coming down as to keep from hitting someones helmet or arms.

Skiers- remove your wrist straps and hold your ski poles in one had. Parents, it may be helpful to hold your child’s ski poles, as well as your own, while loading the chairlift.  It is not recommended putting them under your legs.

We know that some people like to carry backpacks, fanny packs, or Camelback-style hydration devices. Before loading, remove and hold packs as straps may become entangled with the chair. Holding packs will reduce the likelihood of this happening.

If you drop something while loading or riding a lift ask ski patrol or the attendant for help once you have unloaded.

Sit back, hold on, and sit still and NO horseplay!  Horseplay can take may forms – turning around in the chair, throwing snowballs or other items from the lift, trying to touch the lift tower, trying to swing or rock the chair, trying to knock a friends ski or snowboard off, the list is endless. It is imperative that you sit still, sit back, and in general, have respect and courtesy for others and for the overall process of loading, riding and unloading from the lift.

How do I prepare to unload from the chairlift?

•Prepare to unload as the chair approaches the unloading stations.

•Gently raise the restraining bar as you near the top terminal.

•Be prepared:  Check for loose clothing, put away phones and music devices and keep tips up.

•At the UNLOAD HERE marker, stand up as the flat unloading platform begins to ramp downward.

•Quickly go ahead down the ramp and away from the chair.

•Keep going to keep the unloading ramp clear for others behind you.

What should you do when the chairlift pauses or stops for an extended period of time?  Simply put: be patient, sit back, and hang on. It is not unusual for a chairlift to momentarily slow, pause, or even stop. Often, another person loading or unloading the lift may need assistance. If the lift stops for an extended period, resort staff will be in communication with you.

One response to “First Chair, Last Call

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    This is a great reminder about safe chairlift rides. As someone that only recently learned to get off a chairlift on a snowboard without screaming, I wish I had read this first. Thanks Jeff Cavagnino!

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