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Are you affected by vertigo? That sensation of whirling and loss of balance is associated particularly with looking down from a great height. Or are you afraid of hurting yourself getting and off the chairlift on the ski slopes?

Chairlifts are a great way of accessing the top of the mountain quickly but not if they create anxiety and nerves before you have even started your skiing. If the very thought of a chair lift creates anxiety we become focused on what can go wrong, creating tension the whole process even more challenging.

Fear of Chairlifts

Overcoming the Fear of Chairlifts

Imagine what it would be like to ski with friends and family without worrying about falling or making a mistake. Learning a new sport at any age can be daunting, especially in a whole new environment like the mountains. And if you do feel nervous, just know that you’re not alone.

We would like to share some tips from our expert Ski School Coach for Nervous Skiers, Louise Pode of ProAbility Ltd, to enable you to overcome your fear and manage the chairlifts in a safe and controlled way.

Mastering the technique

Understanding how to get on and off a chairlift is important and the best way to learn is by observing others ahead of you. Before you get on the chairlift, spend five minutes watching what happens to put your mind at rest.

  • Notice how others put their ski poles in one hand and reach back for the chair as it approaches.
  • We’d recommend sitting on either end of the chairlift because you can ski off to one side avoiding others making the whole experience that little bit easier.
  • If you are feeling fearful, book a lesson with a ski school and a ski instructor can help you feel in your comfort zone once again. A little one-on-one time with an expert can do wonders for your confidence.

How to get on and off a chairlift in five simple steps:


Book a ski instructor

Once you’ve arrived on the slopes, and can already feel the fear of using a chairlift, then we’d advice booking a private lesson with a ski instructor. You’ll be in good company with an expert who can help you in building confidence and ensure you feel comfortables on the slopes.

We also run group lessons which can be a fantastic way to learn to overcome your fear of chairlifts, as you’ll be with a group of like-minded skiers who may also have the same fear or questions over how to ride the chairlift safely.

The instructors can put your mind at ease, and with our advice and tips listed below, you’ll be fully equipped to ride the chairlift in a relaxed way. You will have regained control, and can worry less on your first time.

Do you want to get over your fear of heights and feel comfortable on your next chairlift ride? Book a ski lesson on your next ski holiday.

skiing parallel

Happy skiers on the ski lift

Once you are on the chairlift, push your back into the back of the seat and hold onto the handrail if it helps.

Take a deep breath, try to relax and take note of all the little things going on around you. Whether that’s the beautiful views, the colour of the person’s jacket on the chairlift in front, the colour of the sky, the crisp mountain air, what you’re going to have for lunch etc.

fear of chairlifts

Here are our top tips for nervous skiers riding the chairlift safely:

  • When you’re on the chairlift sit well back, bring the safety bar down and avoid turning around.
  • If looking down creates a real fear of chairlifts, continue looking forward in the direction you’re going.
  • It’s always helpful to sit next to a friendly face to chat with to distract your mind. We’d also advise against wearing a backpack as it’s another thing to think about and can be uncomfortable if it remains on your back.
  • When it comes to dismounting watch how those ahead of you do it – lifting the safety bar once you are over the safety net. Push yourself away from the chairlift as you dismount so you clear the area quickly.

Fear of Chairlifts

What if the chairlift stops midway?

  • Is vertigo a challenge for you? If so always travel with someone else on the chair to talk to and distract you.
  • If the chair stops midway and you’re high in the air it can be nerve-wracking. Focus on the horizon to minimise any vertigo and change your focus to something completely different such as plans for the evening or where you plan to go for lunch.
  • Using techniques such as deep breathing and mindfulness to calm your mind is effective if you start to feel the panic rising.

When you’re on the chair be in the moment and enjoy the amazing views of the beautiful mountain scenery and a great perspective of your resort. It is a great way of spotting wildlife as the eagles soar and marmots and chamois leave their imprints in the snow.

Other types of ski lifts:

Magic Carpets

A magic carpet is a type of ski lift that’s used in the beginner areas. It a moving carpet that takes you up the hill. To get onto the carpet, you shuffle slowly with your skis until the carpet takes you. Remain standing upright and don’t move whilst on the carpet. Once you get to the top, you will simply slide off. Make sure you move out of the way before the person behind catches you up! Watch the full video below, to feel confident on your next magic carpet ride.

Drag Lifts

A drag lift, or otherwise known as a button lift is another type of lift to take you up the mountain. If you have poles, put them both in one hand so you keep one hand free to grab the lift. You will need to pull the lift between your legs, but remain standing – we don’t sit down on a drag lift! The circular button part of the lift will pull you up the slope, so keep your skis straight in parallel in front of you.

Once you reach the top of the lift, simply pull the drag lift from between your legs and let go of it. Again, make sure you move out of the way so the person behind you can also safely get off the button lift.

If that made no sense at all, watch the video below for a recap on how to get on and off a drag lift!


Are you a nervous skier?

This video covers all of the essentials that you need to know when you are learning how to ski on your next ski holiday.

It includes the basics, like how to put on your ski boots, how to walk in ski boots, how to put on skis and move around and much more! Take a watch, and share it with any nervous skiers you know.


Learn at your own pace

If you or someone you know is a nervous skier, book yourself into a Ski with Confidence Course on your next ski holiday. A patient instructor to build your confidence on gentle slopes might be just what you need. If you’re ready to learn at your own pace, we can help.

Book a ski with confidence course today