Riding Poma Lifts

There’s a huge range of options these days to get you up the mountain before you can start the fun stuff. And these days the most modern resorts have super efficient chair lifts which are kind enough to slow down as we sit on them and slow down again when we get off! The bigger resorts also have gondolas & cable cars where you carry your skis & either sit or stand inside. Some European resorts have ‘trains’ that run on a track to take you up the mountain. These are often the best lifts to use on stormy days.

However, in some resorts in the US and in the southern hemisphere but above all in many European resorts there are surface lifts, such as ‘Poma’ (button) lifts or ‘Tee- bars’ that drag you up the slope on your skis. Riding the aerial lifts is very easy. Riding the surface lifts can be more difficult, especially for the first time!

Poma (Button) Lifts
Riding a Poma lift

To ride a Poma lift, remove your skipoles and hold them in one hand and then ski forward and grab the pole with your free hand. As the pole is attached to the moving cable with a spring it might ‘jerk’ when it takes your weight so keep your knees bent to absorb the shock. Keep your feet spread apart and have your knees and ankles relaxed and stand upright. If you sit backwards the spring will extend and you are likely to fall backwards. There are often grooves made by previous skiers, so try to keep your skis in these grooves. Pay attention while riding up the slope that your skis do not cross. When you arrive at the exit point, spread your legs apart and release the pole and then ski away from the exit so you won’t get run into by the person behind you.


    • Riding these surface lifts can also be beneficial to your skiing as you can use them to refine your edge control during the uphill ride. While you shouldn’t swing large arcs during the ascent, you can practice rolling your feet and ankles gently from side to side to see and feel how those movements make your skis turn. You also can practice leaning forward and backwards in your foots to help you find the ‘sweet spot’, i.e. the stance that gives you total control of your skis.

I’ve always found riding Poma and Tee-bar lifts an enjoyable experience and will often ride them when presented with a choice of two types of lifts to mount the same slope. With practice you too might learn to enjoy these uphill rides.


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