A Six-Pack Isn't What You Think it Is - Explaining the Various Forms of Transportation at a Ski Area


CONTACT: Mary Jo Tarallo | 202-431-6950 | mjt@learntoskiandsnowboard.org


October 2017 - If you think the phrase “six-pack” means a half a dozen beers or the results of an ab work out then think again. To skiers and snowboarder sit means transportation up a slope. In the snow sports world, a six-pack is a wide and sophisticated “chairlift” that can hold six people and swiftly transport them up a slope so they can slide down.

The first chairlifts were installed in 1936 and 1937 at Sun Valley Resort in Idaho. Invented at the request of W. Averill Harriman, a Union Pacific Railroad magnate and the owner of Sun Valley, the lifts used the same overhead ropeway design as tropical banana conveyors.

“The snow sports world is full of unusual terminology that often confuses people,” said Mary Jo Tarallo, executive director for the industry’s Learn to Ski and Snowboard/Bring a Friend initiative. “The learntoskiandsnowboard.org web site helps to explain some of the terms that may be unfamiliar to beginners especially when it comes to transportation up the hill.”

Beginners are unlikely to ride a six-pack on their first day learning as there are other forms of transportation better suited for a beginners area. Slower moving chairlifts typically hold two people.

Another form of transportation for newcomers is often called a “magic carpet”. This is a people mover conveyer belt configuration that allows newcomers to simply stand on the slowly moving platform on their way up the hill. It is similar to moving walkways found in many airports.

As newcomers progress, they will find themselves riding various forms of chairlifts including triples (those that hold three people), or quads (four people). A “detachable quad” does not mean that the seating area will come off the pulley that holds it. It means that the seating area becomes disengaged from the pulley to slow it down while people position themselves to sit on it. Then it moves rapidly up the hill where it slows down again so people can get off easily.

Other forms of transportation – gondolas and trams – are enclosed cars that sail rapidly to more advanced terrain. They range in size from holding just a few people to several dozen. These typically are found at larger resorts.

Companies like Dopplemayr make a wide range of chairlifts and surface lifts to transport skiers and snowboarders throughout the world.

January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month More information about uphill transportation at ski and snowboard areas is available at:



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