Cam Mayhue, left, and Heather White ride the gondola at Steamboat Ski Area on Wednesday afternoon.

Photo by Brian Ray

Cam Mayhue, left, and Heather White ride the gondola at Steamboat Ski Area on Wednesday afternoon.

Lessons from the lift line

Make your ski days more enjoyable with a little etiquette



Skiers and riders load Christie Peak Express chairlift at Steamboat Ski Area on Wednesday afternoon.

— Asking skiers what annoys them most about lift lines, while they are stuck in a stagnant lift line, does not elicit serious or patient responses.

That might be because in ideal circumstances, and in many visiting skiers' minds, the mountain is covered in fresh, deep powder. There's no wind, all the trails are basking in sunlight and all the lifts are open.

It's perfect - or it will be, once that 500-person-deep wait for the gondola lets up.

To keep the line moving in the most bearable way, here's a run-down of the most common ski lift pet peeves, as suggested by the clumps of out-of-town skiers hanging out around the base of Steamboat Ski Area on Thursday morning:

Back off

We know that you are eager to get on the mountain. And especially when the gondola is closed, we know that it doesn't take long for the lines at Christie Peak Express to resemble an especially compressed tin of sardines. But one of the most common pet peeves of those interviewed was people who creep up on their space in a crowded lift line until skis are tangled or poles are poking backs. "If you're standing there and people run over the back of your skis, that (makes you angry)," said Rachael Bollinger, of Georgia.

Know your place

Charming though it is to barrel through the patient crowds with an entire family, saying things like, "These nice people know our flight was delayed, and we've been waiting to ski all day," it's best to avoid cutting in line.

Luckily, selfishly sliding through the masses to get to the top faster isn't all that common here - especially not when you compare Steamboat to any ski destination in Europe, said Niki Coutts, of Scotland. "Europeans just don't know how to queue. Here everyone is so courteous, so it works out well," Coutts said.

Practice proper merging

On busy days when all the lanes to popular lifts are spilling over the crowd-control railings, it's important to keep things orderly. Ticket checkers at Christie Peak Express said when things get especially backed up, they use a "shotgun" system, lumping skiers into groups of six and letting the front row of each lane go at the same time. The most common complaints they've heard is that people go in smaller groups or push ahead of those in lanes closer to the lift.

Be patient

Generally, people can understand that they are not champion ski racers - or that they appear to be walking through Jell-O while navigating the lift line. Try to avoid mowing them down.

"There are some people who will run past you. But we're first-time skiers, so we're probably in people's way more than anything," said Heath George, of Mississippi.

Figure out the lift first

For most Steamboat locals, this last one probably goes without saying, but the first step to knowing how to handle a lift line is to know what to do when you get to the front of it.

- To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204

or e-mail


love_boat 9 years, 2 months ago

I often ski by myself so when going through the singles line I hope to catch a ride with someone who has skied before, preferrably in a class where they learn how to get on and off a lift without injuring anyone. I actually rode up with an idiot who planted his poles to exit the lift. One pole was planted between my skis so naturally, I fell. I also have had the fun of someone falling on me while exiting the lift or skiing on the back of my skis. To me the drama is getting off the lift without some fool taking me out. There should be a required test before getting a lift ticket. A simple true or false test would do. Lift line ettiquette could be covered as well.


dave reynolds 9 years, 2 months ago

Star we have snow so whine about lift lines..maybe she meant well by article but really its about living here..I have a gash above my eye courtisy of tourist carring his skies over his shoulder to high and not paying attention


George Danellis 9 years, 2 months ago

In addition to what happens in the lift line is what happens on the lift. As most of us must ride with people outside our skiing party, this works out to be a big part of our daily enjoyment (or not) up on the hill. I have two suggestions: first, greet those on the lift after loading the chair. You don;t have to talk to them otherwise, but ignoring them completely doesn't seem polite to me. Second, and this is a big one, do NOT drop the bar as you are asking if it is ok to do so. I have myself been hit in the head by the bar more times than I care to remember. I know that this is a peeve for more than just me. In fact I have seen a fight break out after unloading from this, sadly. Ask first, and then only when everyone has replied positively to the request, then bring the bar down slowly. I have taken it upon myself recently to quietly educate people, especially visitors, about this etiquette. And remember, while you may know a lot about getting around up there, many have little or no experience and we would do well to respect them and their needs.


Token 9 years, 2 months ago

Gosh, I didn't think this was about whining. I thought it was about us all becoming more aware and more patient! fairlysure has it right.


Hadleyburg_Press 9 years, 2 months ago

Alternate? For the longest time I thought those signs said "Please Altercate."


blahblahblah 9 years, 2 months ago


No farting,

No snot rockets,

Don't toke up unless you're alone.


OnTheBusGus 9 years, 2 months ago

paddlefisher, that's why I wear a helmet.. to protect me from the errant head-height skis swinging around. LOL! Oh and the bar coming down unannounced!


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