Chairlift Safety

Photo by Daphne Hougard

Most skiers and riders ski and snowboard at Ski California member resorts by riding chairlifts. “Your Responsibility Code” requires that “Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.” Nearly all lift incidents occur because someone loading, riding, or unloading the chair makes an unsafe decision. The following are suggested practices to help make your experience riding a chairlift as safe as possible:

1. When loading the chair, move promptly from the waiting area to the load area after the chair in front passes.
2. At the loading area, look back and to the outside for the on-coming chair and grab the part of the chair that is easiest for you, typically a side bar, back rest, or top of the seat.
3. Once seated, if the lift is equipped with a RESTRAINT BAR pull it down if you can do so safely, and politely announce that the bar is being lowered.
4. While riding the chair, ALWAYS SIT BACK and remain seated.
5. DO NOT FOOL AROUND with your equipment or others.
6. If the lift slows or stops, do not turn around, bounce, or otherwise move on the chair.
7. When you are preparing to unload the chair, politely announce that you are raising the bar.
8. Keep your ski tips or the front of your board up and straight ahead.
9. After you unload, move away from the unloading ramp to avoid obstructing others.
10. If you fail to unload at the unload area, remain completely seated and wait for the operator to stop the chairlift and provide assistance.

In short, make sure you are properly seated when you load, safely use the restraint bar if available, remain properly seated during your entire ride by not fooling around, and unload at the unload area and move to an area where you are clear from other guests unloading.

Finally, always be aware and be respectful of others when you are in line, loading the chair, riding the chair, and unloading the chair. For more information on steps you can take for a safe ride, please see the following video put together by our friends at Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows:


While chairlift safety is important for every person, Ski California and its member resorts recognize that special care and attention is required for children. Most lift incidents involving children occur because they lack an understanding of the need to be safe while riding chairlifts. Parents are expected to both know how to ride a chairlift and to educate their children about riding chairlifts. Children may be riding chairlifts alone or with other children while enrolled in group lessons, private lessons, or on ski teams, so it is important that they receive a strong message from their parents. It is crucial that parents educate their children about the importance of remaining seated properly and not fooling around on the chair.

Our friends at the National Ski Areas Association have made strong efforts to address safety for kids on lifts. We encourage parents to review the tips, FAQ, and videos at the KIDS ON LIFTS website.