Stay Safe on the Chairlift!

2016 12 10 14.47.21

There have been several serious incidents on chairlifts this season that have made the news.  Recently, a woman and her children fell from a lift at Ski Granby Ranch in Colorado.  In another incident a boy at Sundance Mountain in Utah was left dangling from a lift after his backpack got caught in the chair.  Finally, just yesterday at Arapahoe Basin a man was rescued by a professional slackliner after his backpack left him dangling from a lift.  Chairlifts are generally safe to ride, but its probably a good time to review some lift safety.

Fortunately this incident turned out alright:

Man hanging unconscious by backpack on Arapahoe Basin chairlift is cut down by friend in harrowing rescue

Here’s the link to video of incident at Sundance:

The skier responsibility code generally puts the duty to safely ride a lift on the user.  Most codes require the rider to know how to use the lift and ride it safely.  Most also required the user to ask for assistance or instruction if unsure how to ride the lift.

Washington State’s Skier Responsibility Code, RCW 79A.45.030, actually devotes a lot of attention to riding lifts:

(2) No person shall:
(a) Embark or disembark upon a ski lift except at a designated area;
(b) Throw or expel any object from any tramway, ski lift, commercial skimobile, or other similar device while riding on the device;
(c) Act in any manner while riding on a rope tow, wire rope tow, j-bar, t-bar, ski lift, or similar device that may interfere with the proper or safe operation of the lift or tow;
(d) Willfully engage in any type of conduct which may injure any person, or place any object in the uphill ski track which may cause another to fall, while traveling uphill on a ski lift; or
(e) Cross the uphill track of a j-bar, t-bar, rope tow, wire rope tow, or other similar device except at designated locations.

(5) Any person who boards a rope tow, wire rope tow, j-bar, t-bar, ski lift, or other similar device shall be presumed to have sufficient abilities to use the device. No liability shall attach to any operator or attendant for failure to instruct the person on the use of the device, but a person shall follow any written or verbal instructions that are given regarding the use.

(9) A person embarking on a lift or tow without authority shall be considered to be a trespasser.

Here’s a link to the full code:

The NSAA offers these tips on how to ride safely:

    • Need assistance? Ask the lift attendant for help. Smallest kids should load closest to the attendant.
    • Remove & carry packs. Do not use phones, music or games while loading or unloading.
    •  It is OK to miss a chair and wait for the next one.
    •  When loading, watch for approaching chair and then sit to the back once seated!
    •  Drop something? Let it FALL. Any item dropped can be picked up later.
    •  Absolutely NO horseplay on the lifts!!


As a chair passes you at the “Wait Here” sign, move ahead quickly to the “Load Here” sign and line up evenly. When the next chair comes behind you, sit on the seat, and slide back as far as you can – to keep from falling off the chair.


Sit way back to keep from falling from the chair and enjoy the ride to the top! No horsing around, it’s dangerous when you are riding up in the air.


At the “Unload Here” sign it is time to get off. Stand up, and ski down the ramp. Watch for others ahead and ski around them.  Move out of the way quickly, so others can unload too.

My home mountain, Crystal Mountain, Washington offers these tips:

The following are some helpful tips to remember when riding a chairlift.

  • If unfamiliar with loading, riding, or unloading procedures it is your responsibility to notify the operator.
  • When loading, read and obey the “Wait Here” and “Load Here” signs as well as any other signage present.
  • When getting seated on the chair, ensure you are seated with your back fully against the backrest, and hold on to the chair.
  • If you or anyone else is not properly seated on the chair it is your responsibility to verbally notify the lift operator.
  • An adult should lower the arm bar after notifying other riders. Small children should not attempt to lower the arm bar.
  • During the ride, sit still and do not adjust equipment or lean forward for any other reason.
  • When unloading, raise tip(s) of skis/snowboard and wait to stand up until the chair reaches the “Unload Here” sign.

here’s a link:

Here’s a video on lift safety for kids – that’s probably good advice for anyone:


In light of the recent chairlift incidents around the country, take a few minutes to review some lift safety, especially with kids.  See you on the slopes!



For more information on lift safety, the ski industry has made its study available here: