How to

7 Of The Strangest Ski Lifts In The World

If you thought all ski lifts were basically the same, you haven't been paying attention.

Photo: iStock.

It’s fair to say that most people’s favourite thing about skiing is the skiing itself. Yeah, there’s the après-skiing. Sure, there’s the overly ambitious snowman building projects . And, of course, who could forget the world class hot chocolates? But, in the majority of cases, skiing is what people love the most about skiing.

One thing that people don’t really like about skiing is the sheer amount of time spent standing in crowded gondolas, freezing half to death on stationary chairlifts, or having button lifts violently introduced to their nether regions. Some ski lifts however are a genuinely interesting twist on the standard ski lift formula. If they could talk, these ski lifts would say things like “Hey guys, ski lifts can actually be pretty neat if you get to know us” and “Woo. Yeah. I’m a bloody amazing ski lift. Look at me.”

For photos of cool/interesting/unusual ski lifts, and info on where to find them, see below.

1) “Open Top” ski Lifts

Photo via Dachstein Glacier.

“Open top” ski lifts aren’t the most common sight when you’re on a snowsports holiday, but they’re around…if you know where to look. Take this one at Austria’s Dachstein Glacier, for example (see above).

2) The Double Decker “Glass Bottom” Lift

Pictured: The Vanoise Express exterior (left), and VertiGO feature (right).

The Vanoise Express, that connects Les Arcs and La Plagne, stands out for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s a double decker (like a bus). Secondly, it can hold a truly impressive 200 people. Thirdly, at its highest point, the lift is an eye-watering 380 metres above the ground. And finally, for those with a head for heights, it has a “glass bottom” feature called VertiGO that allows passengers to stare down at the valley floor like a passing cloud.

3) The Sauna Gondola

Photo via Ylläs Ski Resort.

A sauna? In a gondola? What kind of sorcery is this?! Well, as mad as it may seem, a sauna gondola actually exists right here in the real world. Where exactly? At the Ylläs ski resort in Finland, that’s where.

It works a bit like this. Get your kit off, jump in the sauna/gondola, ascend to 718 metres above sea level with up to three friends/acquaintances, and shift yourself to a more traditional non-moving sauna up at the top. People, a maximum of 12 over a two hour booking, take turns jumping in and out of the gondola sauna over the course of the session. Cool. Wait, no. Hot. Wait. OK, that’s enough now.

4) Single Chair Lift

Screenshot: YouTube (via Hamlet Yu).

Going solo on a chair lift when your mates all somehow managed to get on the one up ahead can be a lonely, contemplative, experience. This old school throwback at the powder heavy Niseko resort of Japan puts everyone in the Billy No-Mates boat. No safety bar, not much in the way of back support; just you…sat alone…on a chair…waiting to ski or snowboard again while trying not to fall off.

5) The Revolving Gondola

Screenshot: YouTube (via Engelberg-Titlis)

The Titlis Roltair, in Engelberg (Switzerland), was the world’s first ever revolving cable car. During its ascent to the summit, the gondola rotates 360 degrees and provides its passengers with stunning panoramic views of some truly beautiful mountain terrain.

6) The South American “Slingshot”

The Roca Jack slingshot lift in Chile is legendary (Picture via

Looking like a t-bar that’s got somewhat out of hand, the Roca Jack slingshot in Portillo is an absolute must experience for anyone who’s planning to go skiing in Chile. The dismounts off this thing are well known for serving up some genuinely hilarious slapstick moments. Check out the video below for the perfect example of what we mean.

7) Pick ‘n’ Mix Gondola

Pictured: The Penki Combibahn//Photo: Doppelmayr.

If you like the freedom to choose how you get up the hill, you’ll love a chondola. A chondola is a mash up of gondolas and chairlifts, on the same lift cable. Pictured here (above) is the Penki Combibahn at the Austrian ski resort of Mayrhofen.

You May Also Like:

12 Things You Should Never Do When You’re On A Skiing Lesson

24 Terrible Chat Up Lines To Try On The Chairlift This Winter


Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.