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Ski Lift Safety – 10 Questions Answered

Ski Lift Safety

Ski lifts are an essential part of the skiing experience, whisking skiers up the slopes so they can enjoy the descent and they have become increasingly popular over the years, and they are now found at almost every ski resort.

But still, there are people who wonder about its safety. And in this post I hope to clear some of these misconceptions. I’ll go over 10 common questions skiers often have regarding ski lift safety and answer these in detail.    

Are Ski Lifts Safe?

Ski lifts are very safe, In fact they are safer than skiing or even driving your car to the resort!

Ski lift accidents are relatively rare, but they do occur. In most cases, these accidents are caused by user error and sometimes (super rare) due to mechanical failures.

The main reason why these accidents happen is because skiers do not follow the proper procedures for getting on and off the lift. It is important to pay attention to the instructions given by the lift operator and to follow them carefully.

But you can’t blame beginners because to be honest, getting on and off ski lifts is often difficult for first timers.

Another reason is wet chairs on the lift that will cause the seated skiers to slide and fall. And then there’s fast wind gusts which could swing the chairs that might make some people fall over.

Overall, ski lifts are generally safe (especially the machinery) but there is always the potential for accidents to happen, and skiers should be aware of the risks involved in using ski lifts.

Are Ski Lift Cables Sharp?

No, ski lift cables are not sharp. They are really smooth and round just like any other type of cable.

The only way a cable could become sharp is if it becomes frayed. But that’s impossible with ski lift cables as they can never break because of the way they are staggered. They are engineered to never break. 

The ONLY reason that some people even wonder if ski lift cables are sharp is because of the dumb netflix movie “Frozen”.

Do Ski Lifts Have Seat Belts?

Ski lifts do not have seat belts but they do have a “safety bar” instead of seat belts which we will talk about in the next section. 

The reason there are no seat belts on ski lifts is because seat belts would be very uncomfortable. The chairs are not designed for people to sit in them for long periods of time with all the layering and equipment the skier is carrying, adding a seat belt would make the ride even more uncomfortable.

Plus, it would make it more troublesome for people to get off the chairlift at the end of the ride. And there isn’t enough space to fit individual belts with all the passengers a chair lift carries anyway.

Do Ski Lifts Have Safety Bars?

Yes, most ski chair lifts have safety bars. The ones that don’t have safety bars are either very short rides or they move a lot slower.

However there are no safety bars when riding t bar lifts or ski tow rope lifts. 

Ski lifts have safety bars for a number of reasons. Firstly, they provide a physical barrier between the skier and the edge of the lift platform. This can be important in preventing accidental falls.

Secondly, the safety bars help to keep skiers in their seats. This is particularly important on chairlifts, where skiers need to be seated correctly to avoid being thrown from the lift. Plus, they make the skiers feel more secure.

Lastly, the safety bars provide a measure of protection in the event of a lift malfunction. In the unlikely event that the lift stops suddenly or rollback, the safety bars will help to prevent skiers from being hurled from their seats.

Are Ski Lifts Open On Christmas Day?

Yes, a lot of ski lifts are open on Christmas day. Ski resorts only have like 150 – 180 days a year to make money and Christmas is just another day for most resorts.

There will always be at least a couple open lifts on most resorts however they might close earlier than usual for Christmas eve. 

Plus, skiers often get discounts on their ski lift tickets on Christmas day!

Are Ski Lifts Scary?

Some people might find the idea of getting on a ski lift to be downright scary. 

Whether it’s getting on and off, the height, the speed, or just the fact that you’re strapped into a seat with no way to get off, ski lifts can be a bit intimidating.

But there’s really no reason to be afraid! Ski lifts are actually very safe (like we discussed in the first section), and thousands of people ride them every day without any problems.

For people who find it scary, if you have a phobia of height you would definitely find it scary but talking to a therapist will help you get over it. 

And here’s a quick tip – try putting your arm behind the chair and it will make you feel more secure and less scary. 

Do Ski Lifts Have a Weight Limit?

Ski lifts do not have a weight limit. Skiers don’t have to worry about if it’s safe to ride them if they are a little overweight because ski lifts are designed to hold over ten times their intended weight.

So for example, a three person chair lift would have a maximum capacity of 1500 kg and 4 person one would have 2000 kg max capacity. Read more on this on our awesome how much weight can a ski lift hold guide. 

do ski lifts have weight limit

Can You Ride Ski Lift Down?

Generally, you can ride most ski lifts down. However not all ski lifts are designed to download and you might find some ski lifts that you can’t ride down. 

And not to mention that some lifts may have an automatic shutoff that would trip if the skier doesn’t get down which would cause a number of issues. 

So if you want to ride down a ski lift, let the ski operator know first and he will advise you. 

Can Ski Lifts Go Backwards?

Unfortunately the answer to this is yes, ski lifts can go backwards or ”rollback” but it’s really rare!

Ski lifts going backwards could cause serious injuries and you should be ready to jump off the lift if it ever happens. 

Here are a few quick tips to jumping off the lift if it starts to go backwards –

  • Quickly get rid of the skis, toss away the poles and lift the safety bar and get ready to jump
  • Don’t jump at the middle, wait until it’s near the bottom and try to find an area that’s full of snow
  • Keep in mind that jumping at a height that’s 2 times your weight could result in serious injuries so wait.
  • When you find a good spot, jump tucking your chin to your chest and roll over as soon as you hit the ground. 

Can You Ride a Ski Lift While Pregnant?

Yes, you can ride a ski lift while pregnant as long as you are comfortable. But there are some things you should keep in mind.

But make sure you have a good understanding of how your body is changing and how that might affect your balance when getting on and off the ski lift. It could be dangerous if you fall down. 

If you think it’s difficult, talk to the operator and they will stop it for you to get on like they do for older guests. 

And most importantly, be sure to listen to your body and stop if you feel any discomfort.

I’ve seen a lot of pregnant women riding ski lifts and there’s no reason you can’t continue to enjoy the slopes while pregnant. Just be sure to take some extra precautions and listen to your body.

Can You Ride a Ski Lift Without Skis?

This depends entirely on the ski resort. Some resorts will not allow it or sell one way tickets.

But some resorts will allow non-skiers to ride a ski lift without skis and enjoy the mountain views and take photos. Plus, there might even be coffee shops at the top and you don’t need a lift ticket if you are going to these.

And most of the time, you can ride the ski lift down as well on these resorts and you don’t need to walk down the mountain.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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