or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Lift Fear

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Any tricks you know of to help alleviate the fear of the chair lift?

My fiance is 24, and we are headed up this weekend for her first time.

She is terrified of the lift, a result of a truly bad experience with a lift when she was 7 or so. Any help appreciated.

Mt. Bachelor - 110" base 126" mid mountain.
post #2 of 32

Pray!

I have some experience with this one.

I think the most important thing is not to force her to ride the lift. Be patient and wait until she's ready. In the meantime, she can ride the surface lifts and get comfortable on skis. When she has enough skill on skis to maneuver in the lift line and to ski off the lift, reassure her that she can do it whenever she is ready to try. When she is ready, explain to her how to get on and off the lift. Let her know how to sit in the chair on the ride up. Explain what happens when the lift stops and why she won't fall out of the chair. Make the first ride(s) on a short and low chair. If she falls getting on or off the chair, tell her that you had the same problems when you were learning and that it's OK. If you can get the lifties to slow the chair the first couple of times getting on that might be a good idea too.

Good Luck!
post #3 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bendski2 View Post
Any tricks you know of to help alleviate the fear of the chair lift?

My fiance is 24, and we are headed up this weekend for her first time.

She is terrified of the lift, a result of a truly bad experience with a lift when she was 7 or so. Any help appreciated.

Mt. Bachelor - 110" base 126" mid mountain.
If her bad experience was with a fixed-grip chair, you may want to ensure that her first adult chairlift ride is on a high-speed quad like the Pine Marten Express. You can remind her that these high-speed lifts are much more rider-friendly than fixed-grip chairs since the individual chairs slow down dramatically during loading and unloading.
post #4 of 32
Bendski2 what was bad about the first experience? Did she get hit by the chair, did it stop, was it too high, did she fall when getting off, etc.? Knowing the cause of the fear will help you know what to do or say to alleviate it.
post #5 of 32
Is this a fear of heights? If so have her look left and right at the chair level, not down. Also if there is no safety bar have her sit on the end so she can wrap her arm around the end support pole. Other previous comments sound good if it is not a fear of heights but rather entering and exiting the chair. Many lift operators will assist and slow chair if they know the skier is apprehensive.
post #6 of 32
I'm personally afraid of heights and to this day, some chairlifts make me nervous. I will look at the person I'm riding with, or at something that's at the same height I am -- i.e., nearby trees. Just not down.

Some people feel more secure sitting in the center of the chair, some feel more secure sitting on the sides against the arm-rest things. If I'm on a "scary" chair, I usually like sitting on the edge, and I'll jam my pole handles underneath the arm-rest (if possible) and pull the poles themselves across my lap. The poles will be pretty tight against my legs, but that constant pressure pushing me down into the chair is comforting.

Obviously there's something psychological at work here, so there isn't going to be any one cure that we can suggest that is guaranteed to work. I know personally that when I'm gripped by fear that logically reasoning that I'm over-reacting will have no effect -- i.e., telling somebody who is truly scared that there is nothing to be scared about will get them nowhere. You have to figure out what the real issue is and remove that component. Whether that's fear of heights, fear of getting off, fear of getting on, fear of getting down once she's off at the top -- different things will require different solutions. I can only really give suggestions as to what works for me to get over the "height" aspect.

Good luck!
post #7 of 32
Thread Starter 
She was afraid to get off, and the lift traveled around and she hit the catch and was dumped off.

My plan is to spend some time skating up and down the lower end of the slope to give her some idea of what the edges do. Hopefully that will eliminate some of the fear of unloading from the chair.

There is a rope tow, but I do not know if they will let no lesson people use it, hopefully. If not, after the intro to edges, I will get her on a small lift that is used primarily for kids, it is SLOW. No poles to start, they would only be impediments at this point.

Any suggestions appreciated.
post #8 of 32
Any paying customer can use the Rope Tow. Try riding the Sunshine Accelerator or Carrousel chairs assuming your skiing Mt.Flachelor. PS-Because that's about the only chairs in operation at this time. The rest of them are broken but you'll be paying FULL PRICE. Go to Hoodoo and try the Easy Rider chair. It's runs at a very low speed since it's all beginners on it. Dress warm this week it's going to be real cold on the hill.
post #9 of 32
Work with her on a detachable first if you can. Inside next to the bull wheel is a slower exit than on the outside of the chair (but you still have to moto to get out of the way). Go after the lifts shut down and have her "get the feel" with a chair at the base.

As for heights, I kinda struggle with this one too. Sometimes I really have to consciously focus on sitting my butt in that chair when over what looks to be a deep powder stash. I get this urge to jump out and go "poof" in the pow. Don't know why. Sometimes it happens where I have to play the "you jump you die" tape in my head. So far it's never happend on the Eastcoast As a dumb kid growing up in CO, I did used to jump out of chairs when no one was looking. That was really stupid.
post #10 of 32
Thread Starter 
Season passes, so Bachelor is our first choice. Glad to hear it about the rope tow, that will help alot. Good advice on the detachable as well.
Seems like a decent weekend upcoming, glad there isn't a blizzard for her first trip!

MS
post #11 of 32
Private lesson. Let a pro deal with it. Unless you are getting cold feet.
post #12 of 32
I have some experience with this too. For a lot of years I was tenative about chair lifts. The only thing that got me past that was time on lifts.

It all started in the 60's when I fell out of a chair lift of some height. I was fighting with my brother on the chair and took a swing at him. He ducked and I went out of the chair. It was all his fault because if he had simply let me smash him in the face, I would not have gone out of the chair.
post #13 of 32
Well, I was going to recommend a gondola or a tram, but it looks you are committed to this weekend and tackling the fear head on. There are many different approaches to dealing with fear. Which ones will work and which ones won't is a crap shoot. The only way to know for sure is to ride the lift. You need to get buy in from her that she is willing to try and knows it could happen again.

For the fiance's case, it sounds like the moment of truth is getting off the chair. If you can find a plastic chair, bring it on to the bottom of the bunny slope and practice getting up and skiing STRAIGHT off. If you can't use a chair, practice a 90 degree hop turn and ski off instead. If possible do it on a pitch that is as steep or steeper than the lift exit ramp, and has a flat runout where one comes to stop without turning or wedging (or at least minimizes the need). When practicising, emphasize that the knees and the hips have to come forward immediately after standing up. The idea here is to ingrain the movements necessary for a successful lift exit and keep the requirements to a minimum. An add on to this is to add sound keys like "ready, up, forward" to practice the timing involved.

Being an evil instructor, I sometimes use a method I call Power Assist. When getting off the chair, I go "ready" and grab the student either by the arm or all the way around their waist and "up" is when I pull them up off the chair and drag them screaming down the ramp. Make sure you are on the inside position before you do this. As long as they don't fall, they usually won't sue you.

Speaking of instructors, have you thought about hiring a professional to do the job as a means of insurance for your marital status. Friends don't let friends teach fiances.
post #14 of 32
Ditto therusty's comments.

For me, the following advice helped:
* LEAN forward when getting off the chair (don't hop off), and keep leaning 'til off the ramp
* ski straight off the chair
* slowing down the chair might actually make it more difficult to exit gracefully!
* at first, try to get a chair with just you two in order to avoid "entanglement anxiety"
post #15 of 32
I fell the first time off a chair back in the 60s. However, that was when there was a heck of a ramp at the exit. Zoooommmmm Splat. I've also been around the bullwheel a couple of times.

An assist sounds like a good idea. You could just take her arm or have her take yours and help her stand as Rusty said. All she might need is a point of balance for reference to help her make those first couple of transitions.
post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
...practice getting up and skiing STRAIGHT off...
Quote:
Originally Posted by trurl2003 View Post
...
* ski straight off the chair
...
can't be emphasized enough.

many of the falls and failure to get off the chair can be caused by the feeling of having to turn right away. Usually (heck, probably 99% of the time) the exit ramp has plenty of room to go straight, get comfortable, and then worry about turning.
post #17 of 32
Do any areas have "practice chairs" anymore?

I remember a single chair hanging near the lift entrance at Loveland (Valley?), A-basin, or Winter Park when I started skiing (early 60's). Maybe it was Berthoud? - waaay to long ago for my feeble mind.

Anyway, the chairs were there specifically for first timers - sign read something to the effect "before you ride you must be able to... follow these steps."
post #18 of 32
I second Rusty's comments and all the others too. Explain and practice how to get off at the bottom of the hill. In fact part of the skier safety code is to know how to use a lift before getting on it. Any decent ski pro should know how to explain how to get on and off the chairlift. I'd leave the whole thing to a pro and save your relationship.

One caution. Don't take her up a 4-6 person chairlift with only you two on it in high wind-load it full. A near empty chair lift in high wind is a terrifying experience even for me. Some of those chairs can really swing out at Snowmass. I don't know what the chair situation is like where you will be at this weekend so don't know what you can expect.
post #19 of 32
Ok. As someone who's only been skiing for 2 seasons - damned weather has kept me from getting out thusfar this season (coupled with a tractor trailer giving my vehicle some "loving").

However I found the easiest lifts to get off at first were doubles because I always had the arm next to me to help "push" off at the top. I'm short so this was an issue. For reference I once had an entanglement issue my first season on a quad when I got stuck in the middle. That's the only time I've fallen off a lift, but it got me comfortable with giving myself the same sort of push of the seat cushion when a side arm of the lift was not available.

So if you do decide to give it a try at helping her conquer the fear, I'd suggest going with a slowish double lift since this will provide the most assistance devices. Additionally she'll only have to worry about 1 person next to her trying to disboard at the same time.
post #20 of 32
Tough situation. As silly as it sounds, one of the primary preparations is to demonstrate to her that she has far more leg strength than she actually needs to properly exit the lift. Have her sit in a folding chair and tell her to stand straight up. She will (I hope) be able to do this no problem. Explain that the momentum of the chair, the slope of the ramp, the extension of her base (feet) via skis, and her ability to use her hand for a little push off will, combined, make getting off the lift infinitely easier.

One thing I actually use when teaching people to get off a detachable chair (because the speed and ramp angle usually allow this to happen) is to actually let the bottom of the skis hit the ramp first and then make an audible "slap" sound on the snow just prior to standing. The attempt to make that "slap" sound will insure sufficient forward momentum to get her up and then skiing down.

Good luck.
post #21 of 32
Two tips I use for beginners...
1--don't get off before the "Unload Here" signs or whatever that area uses as a marker. When the feet get to the sign, DO get off.

2--Pull the feet back (keep the weight forward) as the skis tip down the get-off decline. Getting back on her heels and crashing sure won't help matters.

And, try asking the lower lift station attendant if he'll phone ahead and ask them to slow the lift when your chair number gets to the top.


Ken
post #22 of 32
It sounds to me like she doesn't really want to ski. Does she feel indirectly pressured into skiing by someone else's interest in it? Could this be the source of her hesitencey?

I may be wrong in my surmise, but some people have no interest in exploring the sensation of sliding (very much akin to the sensation of falling; one of the two natural fears we are born with), but don't know how to spell it out to others who differ.
post #23 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by volantaddict View Post
It sounds to me like she doesn't really want to ski. Does she feel indirectly pressured into skiing by someone else's interest in it? Could this be the source of her hesitencey?

I may be wrong in my surmise, but some people have no interest in exploring the sensation of sliding (very much akin to the sensation of falling; one of the two natural fears we are born with), but don't know how to spell it out to others who differ.
She claims to want to do it, and conquer the fear. I will not, as someone else suggested, force her. I got a little more info out of her regarding the incident:

Apparently she went with a group. The group instructors split them up into no experience, some experience, and considerable experience.
She was in the no experience group. The instructors got them into thier skis, spent twenty minutes having them side step up and down and then put her on the lift with two other newbies.

No wonder she balked and didn't get off. If her recollection is correct, that seems like a poor idea. No rope tow first, just get on the lift?

hmmmmm.
post #24 of 32
I think lack of experience is the problem here, and the only way to conquer that is to just try it out again. But this time assistance and a detachable chair will make all the difference in the world.

It is definitely easier than to conquer your fear of heights. Like KevinF, I am very uncomfortable on chairs but I came a long way to manage my fears of heights. But if the chair is very high or there is a lot of wind I have to work hard to keep myself together.
post #25 of 32
Many good suggestions in this thread.

If it isn't too late get your fiance to read all the above. Maybe she will see something that will really resonate with her.

I like the idea of a short double chair myself. If you don't get the help of an instructor, at least ride the lift without her first to scout out the exit ramp so you will not be surprized by anything on her first ride. Have a happy time.
post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bendski2 View Post
Any tricks you know of to help alleviate the fear of the chair lift?

My fiance is 24, and we are headed up this weekend for her first time.

She is terrified of the lift, a result of a truly bad experience with a lift when she was 7 or so. Any help appreciated.

Mt. Bachelor - 110" base 126" mid mountain.
What happened? What about the chair does she fear?
post #27 of 32
bendski2,

It sounds like to me that her fear is caused by anxiety of not being ready to handle the terrain. She needs to be confidient of her control of stopping and slowing by turning. I suggest she take a lesson staying on easy terrain (beginner area) to gain the confidence she needs.
From there, the important points of unloading the chair are:

-don't stand up to ski down the ramp. I use the analogy of getting off a couch. Balance over your feet first and then ski streight.
-leave the poles behind so they are not a distraction.
-only her and one other person on the chair.
-get behind someone in the lift line who is expierenced so they don't fall on the unloading ramp blocking it (rental skis are a clue of inexpierenced skiers).
-I often grab the jacket (of the reluctant skier) by the shoulder to assist them in unloading.

Hope this helps, Good luck!

RW
post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron White View Post
...
-get behind someone in the lift line who is expierenced so they don't fall on the unloading ramp blocking it (rental skis are a clue of inexpierenced skiers).
don't take this as a slam against, but especially be aware of beginner snowboarders (it's much easier for a new skier to unload from a lift than a snowboarder without falling - something about skiing be akin to walking).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron White View Post
-I often grab the jacket (of the reluctant skier) by the shoulder to assist them in unloading...
I find that letting them hold your arm can also be helpful - that way they feel that they are in control of the situation, yet you can bail if the person is going to fall no matter what happens.
post #29 of 32
miles,

Quote:
I find that letting them hold your arm can also be helpful - that way they feel that they are in control of the situation, yet you can bail if the person is going to fall no matter what happens.
I like that idea, but have been dragged down by a death grip. A reasurring hand on the jacket works just fine, but allows you to be in control. I didn't want to mention the snow board thing, gald you did.

RW
post #30 of 32
Thread Starter 

Success

Thanks to all that offered thier advice. The weekend went well, lift fear conquered. The sight of so many four-year olds getting on the lift was a motivating factor, as well as an hour of instruction as to what those "sharp things on the sides" of her skis actually do.

I think I have her hooked.

It is hard to remember that for those unaccustomed to it, strapping slippery sticks to thier feet and pointing them downhill can be a bit disconcerting. A great deal of patience and deep recollection of my own initial experiences seemed to help tremendously.
I did not realize how long it had been since I actually had to think about what I was doing with regard to skiing. My hat is off to those of you that instuct on a regular basis.
The only downside? Now I have to spend considerable dollars on more appropriate (read fashionable and expensive) ski clothing. Well worth it even as I cringe at the price tags.

Thanks again.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching