Helicopter etiquette is pretty simple: get in, help each other with the seatbelts, don’t hog the window seat, pass the water, get out. Gondolas and chairlifts, however, adhere to a completely different set of rules and standards. There are several ways to do it wrong. Here, we talk about ski lift etiquette and doing it right.
1. Go with the flow
Sometimes there are people in charge of making sure everyone follows the rules of the road: alternating which side of the line gets to go next, making sure singles and doubles join triples or quads, reminding people to swing their unnecessary backpacks to the front of their bodies; and then, sometimes, it’s every man/woman/child for themselves. When this happens, be decent: wait your turn, fill the chair with friends or strangers (regardless of how cool they look) and be prepared to move when it is your turn. Oh, and don’t do this:
2. Butt out
Some people smoke. Others do not smoke. It’s understandable that sitting on the lift between runs with your buds feels like the perfect time to relax via smoking, and it would be, if it were 1983 when people smoked everywhere including classrooms and hospital waiting rooms. Unfortunately for smokers, non-smokers have won the right of way when it comes to second-hand smoke in public places and, thus, lighting up on a lift is poor form. (It’s also against the actual rules and can get you kicked off of some mountains.)
3. Read the room
You can make small talk, but you don’t have to. If you’re a chatter, throw an opener into the void and wait to see how it’s received. If your lift buddy is listening to music and giving off a solitary vibe, it’s going to be a quiet ride. Respect that. And, speaking of respect, not every story is appropriate for sharing with strangers. Please – PLEASE – save your swear-riddled, offensive tales of debauchery for après at the bar or, better yet, your diary.
4. Stash your trash
Thanks to the incredibly effective guilt-trips and moral brainwashing I received as a child in small town Canada, I would NEVER toss a juice box off a chair lift onto the groomer below. Like, actually never. I don’t understand who would. I mean, you had a backpack or a pocket big enough to carry the item you just consumed until the moment you ate or drank it, so clearly you can manage to carry the container with you to the top of the lift where there is ALWAYS a trash can.
5. Cheers, not jeers
The thing about skiing or riding the run directly below the lift is that you’re on display. Everyone knows this. The thing about riding the lift directly above a run is that you have two choices: you can be a happy, awesome cheerleader or a big, mean jerk. Celebrate the kid who’s blowing down the groomer in a firm tuck. Whistle at the hot ski instructor who has to spend the first powder day in over a week teaching the snowplow. Take a selfie. Eat a granola bar. Have a nap. There’s no need to tease, mock or heckle. We’ve all bailed below a lift full of snickering strangers. It’s the worst. Be kind.