It’s hard to argue against good manners, whether we’re talking dinner table or lift line.

And while we all have a pretty good idea of basic ski and snowboard etiquette, sometimes it’s worth a review, especially if you’re a parent with young skiers and riders who may not know the rules.

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Chairlift Etiquette: The Lift Line

1. Slow down

Skiing fast, it’s tempting to put the brakes on at the last minute, executing a tight turn into the maze. However, one erratic move by another skier and you’re both toast.

Good manners: Slow down to a controlled speed before entering the maze, especially if you’re with kids or others who need your assistance.

2. Wait outside

Nothing clogs the lift line quite like friends waiting for friends inside the maze.

Good manners: Wait to one side of the maze. When you see your crew coming, start moving into the line. Your partners can easily join you without making a full stop.

PHOTO: Kacper Kowalski Panos Pictures

3. Watch Your Feet

Nobody likes it when someone skis onto the back of his or her skis or snowboard.

Good manners: Give those around you plenty of room and respect their personal space. Be respectful of their gear and you won’t get dirty looks.

4. Play Fair

We’ve all been in line with people who charge ahead, refusing to alternate. It’s hard to say if this is intentional or they’re just unaware. But it doesn’t make anyone happy.

Good manners: Pay attention to your place in line and the lines around you. Anticipate when it’s your turn to go and keep the line moving quickly.

5. Decorum, Please

Pretty much everyone in the lift line is excited to be there, burning endorphins and enjoying themselves. This is a good thing.

What’s not a good thing? Happily pushing each other, bumping into others, and (sorry, ski mom talking here) audibly dropping F-bombs, or any other bombs, around small children.

Good manners: Enjoy yourself while being respectful of the people around you. Don’t let your stoke stomp all over their stoke.

6. Ticket Please 

First run of the day with an RF ticket in your pocket? Make sure it’s isolated so you can get through the gate. Using a paper ticket or a pass attached to your jacket? Help your lifty scan it by making it easy to see.

Good manners: If you are unsure how your ticket or pass works, ask at the ticket window.

Chairlift Etiquette: On The Chairlift

1. Know What You’re Doing

While we’re mostly talking chairlifts, there are times when you will encounter a surface tow or some other exotic conveyance. If you don’t know how to get on, you’re more likely to fall. This slows everyone down and makes you feel bad.

Good manners: If you’ve got questions, ask the lifties. If you need the lift slowed down, ask. It’s always better to temporarily slow the lift than to make it stop because of a fall. If you’re riding with young children and you need them pulled back into the chair, ask.

No matter what you need, ask.

PHOTO: Gant Morgner

PHOTO: Gant Morgner

2. Easy with the Bar

While it used to be called the safety bar, the ski industry prefers the term “comfort” bar. I choose to call it the “damn bar.” (Yes, I am a ski mom hypocrite, with an arsenal of bad language.)

Rules on bar usage vary. But even if you’re in a state like Vermont or a country like France that requires bar usage, please don’t slam it down without asking.

Good manners: Wait a few minutes until everyone is comfortably seated and ask, “Can I bring the bar down?”

Your chair mates will be forever grateful that you didn’t bash them in the head. They might even thank you. But if you slam it down without asking, chances are they’ll curse you.

3. Good Conversation

Chairlifts are one place where it is socially acceptable to talk to strangers. Good topics: How’s your day going? Where’s the good snow? Having fun?

Bad topics: Are you prepared to meet Jesus (to anyone)? Can you help me warm my hands (to a younger female from an older male)? Do you want a hit (to a parent with little rippers)?

Good manners: Keep it friendly and benign. Everyone on the chairlift is there to ski or ride, not talk religion. And if you don’t want to talk, nothing works better than ear buds.

4. Hold on Tightly 

Not to the chairlift or to the bar, but to your stuff. It’s a bummer to drop a pole, glove or a phone off the lift. Since these drops inevitably occur over no-ski zones, say goodbye to whatever falls away.

Make sure your kids understand that it’s not okay to test gravity by dropping stuff off the chairlift. The same goes for spitting or pelting skiers below them with snow.

And while yelling doesn’t physically hurt anyone, it’s a rare person who appreciates jeering from the lift. Cheers? Yes. Jeers? No.

Good manners: Keep what’s on the chair, on the chair. If you need to take your gloves or helmet off, enlist your seatmate to help you hold your stuff.

5. Adios Amigos 

Avoid difficulty as you near the top by finding out which way everyone plans to go. Hang back a bit to let the weaker skiers get off the chair, or ski off fast to get out of the way.

Good manners: Ask your neighbor which way they plan to go and when you think it’s time to raise the bar, let them know that it’s coming up. This gives everyone time to get clear of the footrests and prepare to slide.


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Sub-Categories liftopia / More Snowsports / Ski / Ski & Snowboard / Snowboard

22 responses to “Chairlift Etiquette: From the Lift Line to the Top of the Mountain”

  1. Michael O'Meara says:

    Take the next available chair. Don’t wait for the next chair so that 2 can have a 4 place chair all to themselves.

  2. Jeff Hill says:

    Please control your kids. They are the biggest offenders because mom/dad are too busy yucking it up. They’re always standing on my skis.

    • TouringToSellShirts says:

      Plus 1 on this, or help kids understand the alternating thing. Kids will push ahead and parents think it’s funny or are filming them. You’re pissing everyone off and not parenting. We don’t think it’s cute.

    • Chris Moore says:

      Boo-Hoo. You should open an adults-only mountain where no fun is allowed.

      • Jeff Hill says:

        Is someone standing on your skis fun? I didn’t say no kids and I’m not taking about the family/ learning area of the mountain. If you’re 7 year old is good enough to ski black diamonds, you can tell them to behave in line.

        • Chris Moore says:

          Mostly they do, but if you’d ever have kids you’d understand that sometimes they’re attention waivers. I live in Colorado though and everyone generally gets along here so we don’t really have issues like this. Plus our skis get scratched no matter what so we don’t generally get mad about a couple more in line. OTOH, maybe I don’t really have a good perspective on this – I ski Loveland and generally don’t deal with lines.

  3. Joseph C. Cracco says:

    Excellent point, Michael! I’d also like to point out that the area under the lift is not a trash can. If you’ve carried your full can/bottle of whatever onto the lift, you can certainly carry the empty back to the base for proper disposal.

    • Chris Moore says:


      • Joseph C. Cracco says:

        some day you’ll grow up and realize that littering is a loser move. Until then, good luck, Chris.

      • jlombard says:

        It’s called respect, Chris. Respect for the land, respect for the other skiers, and respect for one’s self.

        • Chris Moore says:

          Sorry, somehow my comment got attached to the wrong comment. Meant for the guy biching about kids stepping on his skis. I ski Loveland where people don’t throw litter from the lift (well, unless you consider bras and Mardi Gras beads litter).

          • jlombard says:

            LOL. Yeah, we have a special tree or two at Crystal Mountain in WA that is fully decorated with under garments, beads, and associated party paraphernalia. Very festive!

  4. Beau Hawkins says:

    There’s a new trend that needs to be stamped out. People leaving their gear anywhere! It’s now at the point where you are navigating around peoples gear to get in line. The specific regional demographic of travelers that are doing this need not be named.

  5. Nan McCoy says:

    Good article! Social etiquette applies everywhere.

  6. hatchrecords says:

    if you are wearing a fart bag. Keep your farts for the slopes. Nothing worse than a fart bagger stinking up the Gondi.

  7. Briony Coady says:

    Please DON’T smoke on the lift. It is really gross for the non smokers in the chairs behind you!!

  8. […] reserved just for the slopes. Know the correct methods to enter and exit a chair lift and follow proper etiquette in the lift line. 7. Stay on Marked Trails Particular trails are marked off-limits for good reason. Stay away, no […]

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