Lift Line Rules

Follow these tips to maximize your time on the slopes

Tiffany Patterson illustration

So many factors come into play when getting familiarized with all of the different aspects of skiing and snowboarding. One part that experienced skiers take for granted is etiquette and knowledge when it comes to the chairlift lines and being a "single" rider.

Recently during the holidays, I was loading a chairlift mainly meant for beginners. The line was long so I had time — really, what felt like an eternity — to take in vacationing visitors' conversations. What I found most intriguing was questions surrounding being "single" in the chairlift line, an aspect of skiing that's so second nature, I've taken it for granted. Here's a little insight to making sense of what could be a confusing situation:

Chairlifts with no singles line

The most efficient way to get to the top in the fastest manner possible: As you approach the lift line, start at the front of the line and ski toward the back. As you're skiing past the front of the line, start yelling "single!" If you're lucky, one of the first groups of people might have a person who needs a partner; you may get the opportunity to load onto the lift in front of the entire line.

Chairlift with a singles line

While it may seem obvious, sometimes using the singles line is not beneficial. Take, for instance, a powder day. I have seen this many times, but only experienced it once. Take into account the "no friends on a powder day" mindset and combine it with the eagerness that a powder day brings; it's natural to seek out the shortest line. When the corral starts to fill up with a bunch of powder hounds presumably riding single (remember, "no friends"... ), if all single riders went to the singles line, that line would get longer at a faster rate than other lines. The natural mindset of wanting to be in the shortest line kicks in. As a result, many single riders will start to partner up. When they starting loading the lifts, many people will already have paired up, leaving no room for a single rider to join them in a quick manner.

On the flipside, during normal operations, taking the singles line can help move you up faster, resulting in more time spent on the mountain. Once you've figured out the "ins and outs" of the singles line, riding single opens up awesome opportunities to meet locals and tourists from all over. If you're on the chair with locals, you might be lucky enough to gain information that could lead to a secret stash, or other locals-only information. ♦