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Chair loading and offloading techniques / etiquette

post #1 of 80
Thread Starter 
HI Epic,

The small hill where I work as a liftie and ski most of the time is a great place for beginners, and we certainly have our share. For many of them, this is their first experience with a chairlift.

We're finding it's a constant job (that few if any workers want to undertake) to educate skiers regarding the proper way to load and offload the 2-person chair -- pole straps off wrists, poles in one (inside) hand, watch over outside shoulder... Offload with poles still in one hand, other hand on chair to guide yourself off, ski completely out of the offload lane...

I would say that at the bigger resorts I've been to (granted, few in number), most of the experienced patrons load and offload safely with their poles in one hand and wrist straps removed. Yet even at our beginner hill, some of our most advanced skiers regularly "pole" off the ramp (some with straps even re-attached to their wrists on the ride up), although they do load properly (straps off wrists) at the bottom. We have a sign at the bottom of the lift which states that wrist straps should be removed from your wrists until after you offload...

It's not like any of us have a desire to call (or become) the lift chair police, but should we at our little hill be doing more to give beginning skiers a better education on how to deal with the chair lift properly? Are we even attempting to do it properly as described above? Is this the liftie's job? Ski patrol's job? The hill administration's job? Or is this really not a big deal at all? I'm interested in hearing what other Bears think about these chair loading / offloading issues.

post #2 of 80
I do it by "the book" but some of the race kids (my son included), insist on poling off. With them it's not a big problem because they are in control with no lashing and slashing ..... just straight off an go.

With the "casual crowd", they are mostly a pain in the adz .... stabbing my skis or getting wacked while they fiddle with stuff.

The ones I hate are the "swingers", with their skis constantly in motion back and forth and scissors like. I'm usually pretty blunt with them.

BTW .... it is part of the lesson plan. How many instructors skip that part?
post #3 of 80
Every beginner I teach to ride a chair hears that polling off the chair is likely to cause problems for themselves or a chair partner, as well as tear up the unloading ramp. I probably say that half a dozen times each time I describe the loading/unloading process.

If your liftie at the top makes a point about the rules requiring poles be unused until skiers fully exit the ramp, it might mean something to the riders. But I'd bet only a few listen.
post #4 of 80

very interesting

i do it the way you describe as correct, but i was beginning to think that i was wrong since everyone else poles off the chair
post #5 of 80
I gotta say: what's the big deal here? Tearing up ramps? Stabbing skis? Come on. In my 30+ years of skiing, I can never remember getting my skis stabbed on the offramp. I would also think that any hole left on the ramp by a pole plant would quickly by filled in or smoothed out by the next skiers. Anyway, this is an example of far too many people obsessing over how others should and should not behave, based on their own ways of thinking.

Then again, I've got my own set of 'issues' thet set me off - I'll probably start a thread here on those too

post #6 of 80

I was a liftie many years ago and had the same issues. It's even more complicated thatn you state because the poles should be in the outside hand for unloading. The reason being that you won't inadvertantly stick your poles into the face or naughty bits of the person gettong off the schair next to you. This only counts on doubles. I just took it as part of the job to be constantly educating skiers as to how to get on and off the chair. It's not only beginners either. I remember plenty of instructors who would ski onto the chair poles still strapped onto wrists - brilliant. Oh, by the way, instructors love to be told what to do by lifties... not!
post #7 of 80
I will hold my poles in whichever hand I feel like holding them in. If I feel like your getting a better boost off the lift then myself, I am going to hold onto you too. If your skis look brand new, Im getting off the lift at a 45 in your direction. If I notice, there is a full line of chairs coming up behind me, I am going to fall, and go limp to make it harder for the liftie. Finally, if you smell, I'm gonna wedge your back pack straps into the lift, so you have to go for a ride!

I'm just kidding people.
post #8 of 80
You should stand at the unloading ramp with a ski pole and give lashes to the people who unload with their pole straps on their wrists. Don't even explain yourself and why you hit them with a ski pole. After the third lashing hopefully they will get the point. If all else fails just clothes line the ski pole strap people as they begin their decent down the lift ramp followed by an elbow drop.
post #9 of 80
sometimes I leave my pole straps around the wrist for the ride. Whats the big deal?
post #10 of 80
Some people just arent happy unless they are telling others how to behave.
post #11 of 80
I rarely remove pole straps unless I am also hefting a BC pack that I need to twist out of the way to sit. So far its never been an issue; just don't stand in front of the chair as I get on.
post #12 of 80
Some etiquette and rules:

Don't step on people's skis in the lift line.

Wait until everyone is seated and knows its coming before you slam the bar down on everyones head.

Don't kick snow off your skis while riding the lift by smacking your skis together. This could cause the bindings to release and send the skis onto someone's head.

Understand that an alternating load line doesn't mean you are next after the people in front of you load.

Boarders wait until you are clear of the ramp area to plant your arse down on the snow and adjust your bindings.

Ladies wait until you are clear of the ramp area before stopping to chat with your friends.

Either ride with the safety bar up or down. Dont put it down then decide halfway through the ride you want it up.

If you think you are going to fall don't panic and flail your arms around and take everyone else out. Slide down on your butt.

Did I mention don't mill around the unloading ramp?
post #13 of 80
i just sit down, and get off. maybe i would remove the poles on a fixed double chair with a mind of its own. if someone is flaying their arms and falling i push them to the side...relatively firmly....my fathers ski career was ended by a beginner falling on him getting off the lift. just dont step on my skiis.
post #14 of 80
anyone concerned with tearing up unloading ramps needs to ride chair 2 at alpental, and see how they like the unloading ramp there. the ramp to get up to the lift was pretty sketchy early on as well...
post #15 of 80
: : : :

For the life of me I cannot understand why people need straps in the first place. I haven't put a strap around my wrist for at least 15 years and I have yet to lose a pole. Is it a psychological "security" thing like powder chords and safety bars?

Seriously, a lot of people shouldn't be allowed to use poles period. Alta has been gaper central the past few days - I've been thumped/whacked/stabbed by so many idiots flailing with their poles it's ridiculous.
post #16 of 80
I've skied three decades mostly about the many Tahoe resorts so have experienced most of the old fashioned chairs of days gone by and changes in lift ettiquette. Since I've been an advanced skier many years, I don't often ride the novice and beginner lifts some seem to have alluded to where problems are more frequent. Over the years I've never seen many problems regarding poles. Sure people occasionally drop them going for the lift like when the snow in spring is rather sticky but not any stabbing others person or skis and such. After I get on a lift I've always practiced sitting atop my poles. That way I never need to think about holding on to them until the top lift station approaches.

When getting off the lift, sometimes I do choose to leave with a pole in each hand. Sometimes that is even with the straps on. Why would one need to do that? Well in a few situations one may need to pole aggressively once leaving the lift in order to gain addequate speed to reach a given trail. If that is not the case, I almost always get off with both poles in one hand and then strap up beyond. I also storm ski quite a bit out here at one of the snowiest resorts each year in the country. On such stormy days with low visibility on lifts that rise to windy ridgelines, it can be quite difficult dealing with any gear once off the lift ramp. So having the straps already on lets one get going and hopefully drop below the ridgeline more quickly out of the wind. Also when skiing in storms where temperatures are slightly above freezing at the base of a long lift, one may find that the straps freeze rigidly halfway up a lift in ways that are difficult to deal with at the top. So better to put the strap on below. Another situation is where riming is so strong that one's goggles invariably are coated so badly at the top that one cannot easily see the pole straps. Although one may think, well why not just ski down off a windy ridgeline and then put the straps on. Well in fact that is what one will end up doing at times but there are considerable opportunities for losing an unstrapped pole in some advanced and expert terrain. Now having a pole in each hand can be both difficult to use and a danger to those next to one getting off down a ramp. There is a rather safe way to do so just holding the pole out straight close to one's direction so as not to interfere with the adjacent person. One of course ought not bring the pole tips down in order to begin pushing off the snow until well past the top of the ramp. All this is not a skill that is particularly difficult for an experienced adult to master. dave
post #17 of 80
Poles basically always stay on my wrists, except in tight trees. Can't imagine giving much thought to it. Never had a problem with poles off-loading, but I do keep them together in front of me and up off the snow if I think the gapers next to me might have trouble.

Who really thinks about this? If you're not a moron it shouldn't be a problem. Packs on lifts seem to be a real issue, particularly with some lifties. Just be careful the straps don't get caught on the chair.
post #18 of 80
Thread Starter 
I appreciate the responses, and in ways this is probably not the proper forum to even bring up this issue. I'd venture to guess that every one of the responses come from skiers skilled enough to load and offload blindfolded and still do it safely. It's the beginners or unskilled skiers that don't know any better that I think should be educated about proper techniques. Who should do that and what's the best way to do it -- if it's even necessary? That was the question.

Last year one of our lifties took it upon himself to stand at the offload ramp with a set of poles and demonstrate the "proper" procedure as each chair came up. It initially worked fairly well with the really new skiers, but those who are, shall we say, more advanced, paid him no mind. It soon deteriorated into a matter of trying to convince Joe Beginner to ignore what Joe Expert was doing... And as CRANK suggested this morning, we don't make it a habit of correcting instructors...

Sitting at the top lit shack on our beginner hill, I've seen -- twice -- someone pole off the lift in sticky snow and have their pole get stuck in the ground as they ski off. Once the pole was unstrapped from the skier's wrist and the pole got bonked by the chair. No big deal. The other time the pole was still around the wrist and the skier subsequently fell on the ramp. These things may not be life or death matters, but the minor inconveniences to other skiers are all totally preventable...

If there's a way (or even a need) to enhance everyone's ability to enjoy skiing (specifically the chair riding experience in this situation) to the fullest, then I'd love to find out how to do it...

Interesting stuff!
post #19 of 80
I don't think it's so much a "beginner" thing as it is a "gaper" thing.

With the exception of small children, anyone with the IQ of a houseplant should have no trouble boarding, riding or skiing away from a chairlift.

When I was a beginner/less experienced skier I rode fixed-grip chairs travelling at 30mph operated by hung-over carnival workers and never had any problems. So did all my friends. Now you've got moving couches with safety bars that slow down to a snail's crawl and gapers still can't manage to ride them without getting injured, stabbing the poor guy next to them or dropping their poles/gloves/hat/goggles/cell phone/fartbag.
post #20 of 80
My chair loading etiquette peeve: If you or your small group are 50% or less of the chair capacity and there's one or a group behind you that could fit in the other half, you should line up to one side and give the others a chance to ride on your chair, ESPECIALLY if there's anything even remotely resembling a line. And in the same instance, if you are the behind group and there's folks behind you, you should attempt to fill the empty half of the chair in front of you.
post #21 of 80
Beginners who try to use their poles as they get off the chair often fall, as they are using them for balance, and they aren't very good for that. I encourage them to hold them in one hand (I prefer the outside hand) and to leave them there until they've safely unloaded.
post #22 of 80
I loved the TGR thread on Fixed grips when I freeski I find myself mostly on Gad 2 and little cloud.

for teaching children under 8 detachable quads are the best thing ever though.....

Also if your not in my lesson I believe in the more times falling off the chair lift is good way for you to learn.
post #23 of 80
I tend to stick my poles under my leg while I'm riding up the lift.....then take them out when I'm ready to unload......

I remember as a newbie to skiing & the lift that I was REALLY scared of the lift and holding onto the lift with a deathgrip as well as my poles made me feel just a tiny bit better so maybe that's why some are resistant to "let go" so to speak??
post #24 of 80
Originally Posted by jenscats5 View Post
I tend to stick my poles under my leg while I'm riding up the lift.....then take them out when I'm ready to unload......
Same here.
post #25 of 80
sometimes I get off the lift with no poles because I am so busy trying to figure out which pocket I put something in, by the time I find it or not. We are at the top. Hopefully, I have chosen to let a friend hold my poles, or Im gonna look like an idiot when I have to get off the lift, and I was sitting on my poles.
post #26 of 80
Safety bars are for kids safety. If you aren't a kid and you put down the safety bar, you are a gaper. You get one freebie a day and you'd better be adjusting equipment or have legs of fire because you just ripped an aweomse powderline into a 2000vert bumpline. Otherwise, you are a gaper.

It is your duty as a skier to train all gapers to say "bar" as a warning before they slam the bar down (so you can move your head/poles/legs/crotch out of the path of the bar).
post #27 of 80

Use Signs

I know there's always that percentage of the population that is too confident or just too stupid to read signs, but every ski area I've been to has signs explaining lift procedures.

There's usually several signs towards the loading area in the lines, and then usually a couple on the lift towers approaching the unloading area. Like I said, people don't always read signs, but if you don't have them, they won't be able to read (and learn.)
post #28 of 80
Originally Posted by Summit View Post
Safety bars are for kids safety. If you aren't a kid and you put down the safety bar, you are a gaper. You get one freebie a day and you'd better be adjusting equipment or have legs of fire because you just ripped an aweomse powderline into a 2000vert bumpline. Otherwise, you are a gaper.
You're too cool for words..... :
post #29 of 80
For those who like to pole off the chair....

It's just a matter of time before your pole will become lodged between your pole (planted in the off ramp) and the lift. This will create a nice bend in your pole.

It usually only happens once.
post #30 of 80
speaking of pet peeves:
I hate it when two groups join up for a lift, then one steps back and takes the next chair up by themselves. Selfishness like that just torques my jaw.
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