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How To Ride The T-Bar Lift With Skis

  • Filip 
Skier showing how to ride the t-bar lift

Riding a T-Bar lift with skis can be challenging sometimes if you haven’t encountered one before. Getting on the lift can frighten you. However, with little practice and following easy steps, you can ride a T-Bar like a professional. 

T-Bar skiing involves standing on your skis with a slightly bent position while keeping the tips of your skis parallel and pointing uphill. Moreover, you should keep your back upright and straight. Keep in mind that you should be relaxed in your body of the most of the time, else you will be exhausted when reaching the top. And, allow the T-Bar to push you up. 

What exactly is a T-Bar lift?

A T-Bar also knows as anchor-lift is a kind of ski lift that you can find on both beginner slopes and more advanced slopes. T-bar lifts are cheaper and easier to maintain than chairlifts or gondolas, therefore t-bar lifts are more common in smaller sized slopes. Moreover, they are common throughout Europe. With the help of T-Bars, skiers can reach up the mountain with ease. In short, T-Bars are ski lifts that drag skiers to the mountain top. 

When you see them first, they appear easy to ride on. That’s because you don’t have to leave the snow. But, these lifts can be more tricky than you have imagined. While T-Bars make winter sports possible for the skiers in the first place, they are often a nightmare to many beginner skiers. But after a couple of runs there should not be a problem to ride the lift.

It is an effective way of moving the skiers uphill. Even though the process is old, you can still find them at many resorts across the world. Sometimes you can find these old lifts where new technology hasn’t been introduced. Or, you can find them at places where regular chairlift isn’t working.

Unlike gondolas or chairlifts, the T-Bar lift keeps the skier on the ground and are less sensetive to high winds. Because T-Bars aren’t influenced by high winds, you can often see them in resorts with high elevations. T-Bars help you access great terrain without worrying about the wind. Besides, it is a great alternative in many cases because of the safety measure. If the lift engine fails the skiers can just leave the t-bar and ski down the slope from anywhere.

How do they work?

Although T-Bars are designed to drag two skiers at one time, individuals can use them alone. T-Bars operate similar to chair lifts with rotating cable systems and pylons. But they have a T-shaped bar and hanging cable that support skiers and pull them. 

Two riders can stand on each side and catch a ride to the top of the mountain. All you have to do is turn inwards and grab the center pole when the T-Bar approaches. When the lift pushes you uphill, lean slightly. Or else, you may risk crossing the skis and falling. 

It can be dangerous and annoying at the same time. Furthermore, you can take children up using this lift. Ensure that you cross your knees so that they can lean back and enjoy the ride. When you reach the top, stand up straight and let the bar go behind you. Like other lifts, leave the unloading area because other skiers are right behind you.

How to ride a T-Bar lift on skis

Now that you are aware of what a T-Bar is, let’s discuss how you can use it effectively. T-Bar lifts can be intimidating for many beginner skiers. But you should remember that it is not that difficult. So, make sure that you need to try a few times before getting hold of it. 

The step-by-step instructions are discussed below. But you need to understand a few things first. While you can have all the information you want about T-Bars, keep in mind that practice makes perfect. Hence, until you get down to the spot and try, you won’t find it easy to ride. 

Also, you should watch other skiers in the line so that you can have a good look before attempting. That way, you can observe how to get it done and learn the right technique used. Here are the steps that you can follow to use a T-Bar on skies.

  • Approach the T-Bar lift queue and wait for your turn to get into the loading area
  • Next, take your hands off the poles and hold them in the other hand that’s outside the T-Bar lift
  • When it is your turn, gently push yourself into the loading area. In most cases there will be a lift operator at the loading area who can help you
  • Slightly turn your head towards the inner position of the T-Bar lift. In short, turn your head in the direction depending on which side of the bar you are standing 
  • When the bar reaches your position, grab it with your inside hand 
  • If you are alone, place the bar’s end behind your buttock and allow it to pull you. You might think that it will be skewed if you go by yourself, but it goes really well. Some people prefer to travel alone because it is sometimes easier. And, if you have someone by your side, you just stand on each side.
  • Don’t forget to hang tight while you are on the move uphill. Be careful not to cross your skis on the way.
  • After you reach the top, ski down the ramp and let the bar move away from you.

Despite the steps mentioned above, if you fall off the T-Bar, don’t worry. Try to get out of the way as fast as you can. That way, you won’t pull off other skiers with you. Simply ski down and stay out of the way. Take your time, catch another bar, and repeat the steps. If someone falls in front of you, take it easy, try to steer out to not hit them, if the fallen skiier dont have time to get away from the lift you might have to jump off the lift, if you do make sure youre t-bar does not hit the skiier in front of you when you release it.

Safety tips you can follow while riding a T-Bar lift:

While chair lifts have replaced T-Bars in many ski resorts, you can still find them. So, you must know how to go up safely. 

1. Show consideration for other skiers

If someone falls in the ski lift in front of you, you may have to get off. Be humble everyone can fall.

2. Get on the lift properly 

When you approach the queue, take off the pole straps. When it is your turn, step on the space and be careful not to get tangled on the skis of other people. Make your hips wide apart and don’t scramble forward. The lift takes you there within minutes. 

Hold the ski poles on your outer hand and allow your upper body to bend slightly inward towards your partner. When the T-bar is approaching, stretch your inner arm and grab it. 

3. Taking off in style

After grabbing the T-Bar, hold the shaft with your inside hand. You can hold the outside end of the bar with the outside hand that’s holding the poles. However, avoid gripping them too tightly because it will make you stiff. Just hold it loosely to balance yourself.

It is unwise to stick your buttock outside or sit down on the bar. Allow the cross-bar to pull you from your back. Position the bar from the lower to the middle part of your buttocks. Make your upper body lean towards your partner, knees flexed, and stand upright. Keep the skis on the track without touching each other.

4. Do’s and don’ts 

Most of the issues arise from skiers who lean outwards and their inner skis coming in contact with each other. As such, it throws both of them apart. If that happens, try leaning your upper body towards your partner and shoulder push together. Also, you can make the outside ski wider to get the balance right.

When you approach steep areas while going uphill, lean your body inwards and forwards slightly. When you find the tracks icy or bumpy, try to lean in and don’t hold the shaft tight. Moreover, keep the inside skis away from each other. And, keep your eyes on the track.

5. Take precautions while riding with children 

It is good to have children but make sure they stand correctly when it is time for take-off. You can take their sticks for the first few times until they get used to it. When you ride beside a young skier, put the bar behind your thighs. 

For an even small rider, you can take them between your knees. Lift the child and keep your knees together as the ride takes off.

6. Don’t get off in a hurry

Until you reach the top, don’t get off the bar. Stand up straight, gently release the bar from your buttock, synchronize steps with your partner, and let the T-Bar move toward the chute. Clear the area and get out of the way without wasting any more time. 

When you are riding with a less experienced skier, allow them to take these steps first. However, if there is a sharp or a small run-out exit, you need to push it a little harder to get yourself free. 


Riding the T-Bar lift is a good thing that every skier should know. If you follow the above-mentioned steps, you can get hang of it in less time. And, you can use the lift to get access to great terrain.