Using Surface Lifts

While lifts simplify our snowboarding lives by taking us up the mountain, using them can be a challenge. Talk about chair lifts, t-bars, and other lifts in this forum.

Using Surface Lifts

Postby John » Mon Mar 07, 2005 7:45 am

Does anyone here have experience using surface lifts? Not that I want to start, but I was just wondering.

My first lessons on skis used a rope tow, which I suppose isn't too bad. But when I tried that on a board, it was was just too much work. Ten feet up the hill, splat. Twenty feet up, splat. And so forth.

Over the weekend I took my snowboard to two resorts that had some other surface lifts, including pomas and t-bars. I avoided the trails that required using those lifts (they included both green and black trails).

I could tell, from a distance, that on occasion some people were actually using those lifts with a snowboard. But I never could look close enough, long enough, to see how it was done.

As long as there are chairs, I'm not going to put myself through the extra effort us using a surface lift. But I am curious: how do those people do it?
Last edited by John on Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby snowboarder57 » Mon Mar 07, 2005 8:31 pm

On a t-bar i usually leave both feet in, put t-bar vertically between legs. Make sure you get it out of there near the top. On a poma lift same thing. Rode a 5-man poma in Portillo,Chile that went very fast- most bizarre thing I ever seen
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Postby huskyfan » Tue Jan 30, 2007 12:28 pm

I'm a newbie which no doubt contributed to my bad experience. Tried a poma lift 4 times - fell all 4 - felt bad for holding up the line so went back to the chair. My memories of pomas T-bars and J-Bars when skiing - there usually was a somewhat set track to keep your skis in. And you could always lift one ski to get over a bump or hole or rough part. The poma I tried was being used by skiers and boarders and basically was a shallow U shape. I think I might have even been a little challenging for beginning skiers. Next time I'll try early in the day when the terrain is a little flatter!
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Postby bobsims » Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:31 pm

Vail has a flat land-poma on the ridge between the front and back sides. They told me just to grab the pole, don't do anything else. Worked fine. The pole holds you up a bit, and you need to steer a little with your edges.
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Postby John » Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:06 am

Have you used a Poma lift?

I was recently at Snowmass, and the Cirque lift was open, which doesn't happen all that open. It takes you up to 12,510 feet, and I thought it would be cool to get up that high. The Cirque goes over 800 feet in 5 minutes (a long time to hang on to a surface lift, in my experience!)

So how to use the Poma?

I had never used one before, and my companions for the day (two skiers) went with me over to the lift area, to see if any snowboarders came by. None did.

I thought of the possibilities. Back foot free, back foot in. Hold with the arms only, or try to stick it between my legs. Ride toe side, ride heel side. Bail out partway up if required?

Eventually I decided that there were enough thrills, challenges, and pleasures to take on elsewhere without trying out a new lift on a crowded day.

If you have used a Poma, how did it compare in difficulty, wipeouts, etc., to using a rope or chair?

By the way, the Cirque lift takes you uphill. The Poma at Vail--I've seen it but it was not operating when I was there--takes you across relatively flat ground. I would think that it is easier to use that one than one going uphill.
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Postby bobsims » Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:04 am

You're right, John, Poma-ing uphill would be harder than on flat land. Here's how I imagine I'd do it, although I can also imagine changing my mind like you did faced with a go/no-go decisison.

I'd definitely strap the back foot in since you're riding the board, and you'll need to steer to cope with vagueries in the path and, ummm, imperfections in one's riding (especially while getting used to this weird setup). And because you're steering, you'll need to use both edges as called for by variations in the path your board is taking.

I'd put the poma pole across my body and use my down-hill (rear) arm to hold the disk (or half of it) against the down-hill (rear) side of my body. That way the body is taking the brunt of the pull and the arm is only holding it in position, which the arm's weight will help.

And I would definitely use a bailout as the failure option. If the poma tow-path is not suitable for a bailout, if it's too narrow, for instance, then I wouldn't take the ride. Of course, this is all theory. Good luck to whoever tries poma-ing uphill.
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Postby daysailer1 » Mon May 26, 2008 10:02 pm

Poma lifts can vary in difficulty from mountain to mountain. I've only tried the Poma's at Loveland and Copper Mtn. They are both uphill poma's and you don't ride them with your backfoot strapped in.

I've never been successful using the poma at Loveland. It's not real easy to use there and besides, it doesn't run that often and the same terrain is served by a chair.

I first rode the poma at Copper in 1995. I think they have modified it since then to make it a little more board friendly. It can be pretty intimidating to use. You go up to the gate, wait for the green light, go down the ramp, grab the poma, stick it between your legs, keep a nice flexed stance, you are then immediately yanked hard up a sharp steep incline. Keep flexed and absorb the yank. That's the toughest part. Yes, you are going uphill the entire time with your back foot not attached. It's not really that hard. Keep your foot on your stomp pad up against your back binding and you can steer the board. This is just like riding away from the chairlift 50-60 feet to get to a spot to strap in. When you get to the top just pull the poma out and let it swing off to the side. The poma at Copper only serves black and double black terrain. There is some really nice stuff up there.

I'm going to have to try the Cirque poma sometime. It's not always running.
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Postby MunkySpunk » Mon Jun 02, 2008 1:08 pm

I've done a rope tow on a board before. Granted, I was no longer a beginner, it was also rather awkward, but I managed it without much problem.

On the flip side, when I took a friend for his first time boarding and he tried the rope tow, he almost hung himself. And my wife (who also said she'd rather do the rope tow her first time out) almost killed herself too.
- Old age and treachery always overcome youth and skill
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Postby John » Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:06 pm

Looking over this thread I realized that I never commented (in this thread, at least) about my time taking a T-bar at Crested Butte. I did took two different T-bar lifts, and it was brutal.

No, I didn't wipe out. I got up to the top just fine. (In one case, I made it to the the mid-station, which had been my destination all along). But I was wiped out by the effort. Perhaps I tried to hard.

Here's what I remember doing. (This T, by the way, was more in the shape of a boat anchor, with some curve at the end rather than a straight line.)

1. Face the line--much like a rope tow.
2. Grab the line with my front hand--much like a rope tow.
3. Place the bar behind me--brushed up against my downhill hip. So one half of the "anchor" is wrapped around me.
4. With my back hand, grab the other side of the anchor (where there was space for someone else--and thankfully, nobody using it.)

I had slipped out of the track once or twice but never lost control.

I can't remember how I distributed my weight--whether it was my front hand that was bearing the load or whether I was actually putting weight on the bar.
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Surface lifts

Postby patmoore » Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:17 pm

The winter before last our ski club took a trip to Davos. My favorite area there was called Rinerhorn and it was the least crowded because all the lifts are T-Bars.

The area was so beautiful that I shot a short (38 second) video while riding the lift on my board. On long surface lifts I'll move the bar around during the trip up - behind my butt, behind my upper leg, between the legs....
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Postby John » Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:59 pm

Pat,

Thanks for the link. Maybe next season you (or anyone else) can shoot a short film of someone latching onto one of those lifts. Might be a useful add to the site.
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Surface lifts

Postby patmoore » Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:50 pm

As the NASTAR coordinator at Okemo I'm constantly using the adjacent halfpipe's T-Bar to get up the hill and I'm amazed at how many kids attempt to ride the lift with both feet strapped in. I guess you're not cool if you keep one foot unstrapped but it's a far more efficacious way of getting up the hill. These kids wigglewalk to get to the starting point. If they haven't already fallen, most do a faceplant as soon as tension is applied from the lift.

If you're new to riding rope tows or t-bars on a snowboard, make sure you're well balanced on your forward foot before planting the rear foot on the stomp pad. If you're a little wobbly, taking a quick stab step in the snow with your free foot will give you instant stability.
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Postby IdahoRider » Mon Jun 30, 2008 8:47 pm

Never have ridden a poma, so no comment on that subject, but there is t-bar at my local hill (Schweitzer mountain) and after a few false starts and stumbles, I figured it out. The way I do it goes like this:
1) rear foot out of its binding, skate from the line to the pick-up point
2) grab the "anchor" and stick one hook between your legs so the curve is cradling your front leg
3) Here's the key to success...start skating. With just a few skate steps you will be moving faster than the lift.
4) Put the rear foot on the stomp pad. You will have a moment to get situated before the lift catches up to you. Use that moment to plant your foot, bend your knees and relax. You should be good to go
5) Lead hand on the upright part of the t and the trailing hand on the end of the other "anchor" hook, ride away and and enjoy the view.
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Schweizer

Postby patmoore » Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:03 am

Ed, I'm jealous! I want to live in Sandpoint and board/ski Schweizer. My wife and I took a trip out there in September a few years ago to check out the town as a possible retirement location. Subsequently we both got laid off and our new jobs won't allow us to retire any time soon.

Schweizer has a terrific NASTAR race program.
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Postby IdahoRider » Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:47 am

Pat...

Sandpoint is still a great town...My wife and I have been fortunate enough to have spent the last 27 years in the Idaho Panhandle, between Coeur d'Alene and Sandpoint. The place is really nice, and I won't even mention last winter's endless powder!

Hope you can get back to this area someday.
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