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Lifting kids onto chairlifts?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I have never skiied out west before, just locally here in PA/MD/VA. My kids at first had a hard time getting on the chair lift but then learned to hop onto it and were fine. We are going to Vail soon, and someone told me out west, I have to lift my kids on and off the chairlifts and the little hills are much lower than here in the East, and that they NEVER stop the chairlift if someone falls on the hill or has a hard time loading.

Is this true? I just can't imagine them NEVER stopping the lift. My friend said they slow down but never stop. My kids are about 4 feet tall. Would they be able to hop on the chairlift?

Thanks!
post #2 of 16
My son was 3 last year. I live in Colorado. I usually had to life him onto all but the smallest lifts. They are pretty courteous out here, as far as I could tell.

There are smaller lifts for youngs kids that load pretty slowly at most areas. Breckenridge even has one with a magic carpet underneath the lift, which makes it real easy to get on.

Most of the newer High Speed Quad and 6-person chairs are disconnected from the cable at the bottom, and load much slower then they actually travel.

There are some older lifts at some areas that do load kind of quick. I don't think there are that many at Vail. I can't remember though. If you stick to lifts that serve beginner and intermediate terrain, you shouldn't have an trouble finding lifts that you can get on. Also, people won't give you a weird look if the attendent has to slow the lift down or even stop it.

Either way, I don't have a problem loading my son while the lift is moving normal speed. Sometimes they will slow them down. If someone is falling or falls off a lift they will stop the chair. Who ever told you they won't stop the lift is just trying to scare you.

Not sure what you mean about the hills being lower out west. The "hills" in CO are definitely bigger then PA/MD/VA.
post #3 of 16

What BS

I have to wonder if the person you talked to has ever skied Colorado. At the very least I wonder what he/she meant by the little hills comment.

1. I don't know where you ski locally, but one of the biggest differences is the number of detachable lifts. The total vertical is greater, the time spent on the lift is less (the speed is greater) and the chair detaches from the cable at the bottom and top so the loading and unloading is easier. When a chair is detached, I'm not sure it can be completely stopped but it is moving so slow that it just isn't an issue.

2. Since the lines out west are typically much smaller than we get here in the mid-Atlantic, the attendants are even more willing and able to help with any special loading situations. Ask the attendants, they'll probably lift your kids onto the chair for you or slow down non-detachable lifts even more than usual.

3. Many times you don't even have to deal with lifts, just walk into the Gondola.

Bottom line, I haven't seen any resort that operated as your 'friend' described, and certainly not a "family focused" resort like Vail.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for all your help.

The "hills" that I'm talking about are not, the mountain/skiing hills, but the "mounds" that are underneath the chairs loading and unloading. My kids are fine with the chairs here, but I rem. one chair where I coulnd't lift them up and this operator was there and always lifted him up for me, he recognized us and always helped without asking and they ALWAYS stop or slow down the chair if they see someone struggling or falling off!!! Once my son fell off like 15 feet from loading and he did an imprint in the snow like a snow angel. Of course he wasn't hurt at all, and actually we all laughed b/c of the imprint later to look at it all day.

I'm so relieved to hear they are nice to stop the chairs.

Thanks!
post #5 of 16
Most of them are detachable and slow down for you. The lifties will usually help..if they are paying attention. If not, just ask! Don't worry they will be fine.
post #6 of 16
VaSkier111

At Copper our lifties often assist little ones. On the high speed detachable quads most of them will also follow the chair while loading and lift smaller children into the chair from behind on the beginner and intermediate lifts. At Union Creek, our beginner area, the chair often slows for small children or first time chair riders and the lifties offer assistance tho those that ask for it or are in obvious need of help.

They do stop the chair if someone fails to load or fall on the offload ramp and can't get out of the way quickly enough. As MattL said, don't be afraid to ask if you need assistance.

All of the other areas here in operate in the same manner. The 6 pack detachable beginner lift on Peak 9 at Breck is a slow loader and the lifties don't hesitate to assist or stop the chair as needed. All the areas I've skied in Colorado have a similar policy. They are all greatly concerned with skier safety and it is a high priority with Ski Area Management, for liability reasons if nothing else!

bong
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by VaSkier111 View Post
... and someone told me out west, I have to lift my kids on and off the chairlifts and the little hills are much lower than here in the East, and that they NEVER stop the chairlift if someone falls on the hill or has a hard time loading.
Don't worry. What your friends don't know won't hurt you.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by VaSkier111 View Post
Is this true? I just can't imagine them NEVER stopping the lift.
Yeah, they just let the little buggers get run over, first by the lift and then by the onloading skiers. It's a Hobbesian existence out here, but it keeps the lifts running on time.

Okay, seriously -- whoever told you that is on the wrong kind of white powder. Any competent liftie will slow down a fixed lift if you ask them nicely. And if someone falls, regardless of age, they stop it.

I skied 30+ days last season with my twins, at the time five years old and under four feet. When they fell getting on lifts, the lifts were stopped. Sometimes I lifted them on, but especially as they got better at it, they got on themselves.

Height of the onload will depend on lots of things, including the conditions at the time, the time of day, and the resort's own choices.
post #9 of 16
Our kids have never had a problem getting on the lifts such as you describe. As other have stated, the highspeed detachable chairs make it much easier to get on since the are not coming as fast and they usually slide right on without any problems. The lifties will also assist if needed, but I usually would grab the back of my son's coat just in case he had some trouble.


Gary
post #10 of 16
High speed quads definitely can be stopped.

Don't be afraid to ask the lifties to slow down the lift for loading, especially the lifts serving beginner terrain. The universal sign to get them to slow down at the top is the "thumbs down" sign. Keep moving your arm up and down until the lifties acknowledge that they have seen you (or until the lift slows).
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinedad View Post
Okay, seriously -- whoever told you that is on the wrong kind of white powder. Any competent liftie will slow down a fixed lift if you ask them nicely. And if someone falls, regardless of age, they stop it..
Apparently you have never been to Ski Apache, Ruidoso New Mexico.

They have bar none the rudest operators in the world.

The only people in the entire area that treat you right are the ski instructors.

If I had to ski there only I would give up the sport.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinedad View Post
Okay, seriously -- whoever told you that is on the wrong kind of white powder. Any competent liftie will slow down a fixed lift if you ask them nicely.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarzan View Post
Apparently you have never been to Ski Apache, Ruidoso New Mexico.

They have bar none the rudest operators in the world.
Okay, obviously there are outliers. Which is why I included the weasely qualifier "competent" in my original post.

The point still stands: lifties don't suddenly act like jerks the minute they get onto actual mountains. (Sorry; couldn't resist the left coast tweak.)
post #13 of 16
If you need help inform the lifite. Ask them for a slow, and some help for the little one.
Some thing for unloading. Tell the bottom ops, you would like a slow at the top. Then he' she can call the top and inform that chair # needs a slow.
If you tell the ops to slow the lift and it does not feel free to contact the lift ops Manager and complain. They will take care of the issuem before the end of the day.
post #14 of 16
If you haven't been skiing on high speeds you will pleasantly find them much much easier to load and unload plus faster. All around a great thing. With small kids I'd try to ride high speeds as much as possible. There should never be a need to ask them to slow a high speed -- there is plenty of loading time. If someone fals lifts are definitely stopped if someone falls unless the lift attendant is not paying attention (yelling helps). there is a huge liability issue if they don't.

I found out west (Snowmass in particular) that they are often OVERLY helpful loading children. My young child (then 6) who could easily load himself was frequently grabbed from behind to help him into the chair (which he hated and we always had to say he is ok to stop the help). It was interesting for him to rip down a double black and then be man-handled by the lifties as if he couldn't get on a lift by himself (usually they tried to help less at the top of the mountain -- but at the beginner lift I got yelled at by an instructor for not having him on the outside so the liftie could help him load).

4 foot tall kids should be able to learn to load without help (but be ready to help if they mess up). I find it helpful to teach them to reach their arm over the back of the chair (bend it so the top of the back is in the crook of their elbow) and use it to pull themselves on. My son regularly loaded himself at 4 foot tall (but he skis a lot of days and has lots of practice). I was appauled at how big the kids at Snowmass were getting helped on -- it helps to load well but doesn't teach them a needed skill (the lifties follow the chair if a kid is on it and pull them on from behind). That doesn't happen in Vermont -- you need to learn - if a kid used to that goes somewhere where they don't pull him on the seat and expects it there could be problems. Of course all that help does keep the lift from needing to stop as often (less messups) thus perhaps the perception that they don't stop the lift.

Always Skiing
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Always Skiing View Post
If you haven't been skiing on high speeds you will pleasantly find them much much easier to load and unload plus faster. All around a great thing. With small kids I'd try to ride high speeds as much as possible. There should never be a need to ask them to slow a high speed -- there is plenty of loading time. If someone fals lifts are definitely stopped if someone falls unless the lift attendant is not paying attention (yelling helps). there is a huge liability issue if they don't. ...
No offense intended here, but...you ski with you child (children?); I ski with 6 to 10 kids 5 days a week (sometimes 6 or 7) the entire season. For you parents out there, do NOT be afraid to ask a liftie to slow a lift, even a high-speed lift. If they're not properly loaded when the chair hits the high-speed cable, the chair could be well over 20 feet in the air with the child slipping out. It's much better to slow a chair than to take a chance on a potentially serious accident.

The lifties should not mind slowing down a lift, especially on a mostly beginners lift. If the lift serves more advanced terrain (exclusively), then, frankly, you have no business trying to load a child on that lift if they have not been previously successful loading and unloading chairs.
post #16 of 16
icanseefor miles --

I don't have the experience of a full time instructor but meant my words to convey "don't worry" about the big Colorado resorts with high speed quads to the father who has been skiing small eastern areas.

Clearly there are times a high speed lift still needs to be slowed. What I meant was under NORMAL circumstances a high speed is slow enough for most people (even with small children) to be able to have a non-rushed successful loading. Sometimes things go wrong - dropped pole, crossed skis, late start, someone loosing their balance, kid having temper tantrum, people switching who they want to sit next to as they load, extra person coming out and trying to load with you, etc -- requiring a slow down or stop. Certainly ask if you need! But high speeds are paced that most people can load successfully if there is not some error in loading (and there are plenty of errors in adults and children each day!)... unlike many regular speed chairs that feel like a mad dash with a small child and really need to be slowed each and every time for many people.

My thought was that generally you should feel more confident and comfortable on a high speed (despite the scarier sounding name). I never meant to imply that you shouldn't ask to slow it down if you would feel more comfortable with it slower.

Always Skiing
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