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How not to ride a cable car!

Updated on November 15, 2013

My friend Peter, (who'd never skied before), decided he'd tag along on a ski vacation with two experienced skiers. The first two days, his friends went skiing off piste (off the main slopes), and he learned the basics on nursery slopes.

Each evening he was exhausted and hadn’t realized how much effort skiing takes and how the thin air of the Swiss Alps affects you. He had expected lavish evenings experiencing the Swiss Apres Ski, but found he was almost too exhausted to climb the hotel stairs, let alone party!

Peter turned out to be a natural skier and being somewhat head-strong, by the second day he decided he needed no further instruction and would ski off-piste with the other guys. However, he didn't know that when learning to ski, one of the first obstacles to overcome is getting on and off of the ski lift.

The right way to get onto a chair lift is to watch for the chair to swing around. As soon as you see the back of the chair in front of you, start moving. Then, when your are in position, put both your poles in one hand, bend your knees a little and look over your shoulder to see when the chair is coming. You have to make sure, when you get on the chair, to keep you keep your skis on the ground, and just drag them as the lift brings you along. Then when you are comfortable, pull down the safety bar and enjoy your ride.

Peter was lagging behind his friends as they approached the lift and they were way ahead of him. When it came his turn to get on, he had no-one in front or behind. He couldn’t watch and see how it should be done. Somehow, he managed to get on the lift and keep hold of his skies and was feeling pretty confident, until the lift began to get higher and higher.

He couldn’t believe that people actually made the trip up without having a massive heart attack. He had presumed that the safety bar (which sits above your head) was a device which when pulled down, tipped you out of the chair once you arrived at the top! As such, he spent the whole hair-raising ride up the mountain holding on to the back of the chair white-knuckled.

At 150ft, he looked down and panicked. There was nothing to stop him falling to his death; he couldn’t believe why he hadn't heard more about "death-by-falling-off" ski lift incidents. He just managed to keep it together, but was white with fear and shock and his hands were stuck tight to the metal of the chair back.

As the top of the hill approached, his friends were there to meet him. They saw his face and wondered why he had already pulled up the safety bar. After Peter explained that he hadn’t realized it was a safety bar and told them about his horrifying journey up the mountain without the bar down, they literally fell to the snow laughing until tears ran down their faces.

To this day, retelling this story still makes me laugh because I know of his fear of heights and I think from then on, he took advice from the experts!


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    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen 7 years ago from Florida

      Hi wilderness - I don't like heights either so I would be hopeless on one of these frightening chairlifts. How did you do it? You must really like skiing! Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I can certainly sympathize with Peter. An avid skier for many years, I have ridden more than a few chairlifts without a safety bar at all, and I am not happy with heights, either. Coupled with a slippery seat and perhaps some wind, it can be an unkind experience. As I have never heard of anyone falling off except at the ends, it is rather funny at the same time. Thanks for the memories and chuckle.

    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen 8 years ago from Florida

      Thanks again fastfreta, you are so kind!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Whew! I feel his pain, I have a fear of heights too. Somehow from reading your other hubs I knew this one would be just as interesting, and you didn't disappoint. Very good.

    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen 8 years ago from Florida

      Don't feel bad - I've laughed til I dropped over this - maybe its our British humor (?) - but if you knew the character, you'd laugh even more because he's a bit of a know-it-all !!

    • palmerlarryray profile image

      Larry Ray Palmer 8 years ago from Macon, Missouri

      I feel bad for laughing about his terrifying adventure but I did anyway... thanks for telling this story.