Modern day skiers and winter sport enthusiasts demand comfort and advanced gear / technology. Up until the early 1900s, skiers didn’t even have anything to carry them uphill. The ski lifts and ropeways were built in the early 1900s, but they were mostly the drag lifts or surface lifts. The aerial lifts were built many years later. The first ski lift was built in 1908 by Robert Winterhalder in Germany.
Bolgen lifts were the first to successfully transport people using ski lifts with bars to cling. They first designed J-bars that transported 1 person, and then replaced it with T-bars which carried 2 people.
The Rope Tow is known to be the first ski-lift and it was built in 1934 by Robert Royce in Vermont. It is a rope with a motor that can take you uphill when you hold it. Holding tight the rope with the hands till reaching the destination doesn’t seem to be very comfortable. Then came the Magic Carpets Ski-lifts. It is basically a kind of conveyor belt that takes you uphill and is used mainly for small or beginner slopes. There were also covered magic carpets that safeguard you during cold windy weather.
Thereafter the Surface lifts such as Button lifts or Poma lifts were implemented in many resorts. You need to place your bum on the plates and hold the pole in order to go uphill. After a short span the T-bars and J-bars were introduced, which is faster and is popular even now. However, Traditional T-bars were not very comfortable and safe like our modern T-bars and were used on small slopes. Thereafter, slingshot lifts or 'Va et Vient' were introduced by Poma company which in French means ‘come and go’. It consists of pulleys that pull 5 skiers simultaneously uphill. It is mainly found in steep avalanche cuts and is mainly recommended for expert skiers or snowboarders.
If you could just sit and reach the destination, then it seems to be more convenient for many people, especially children. So, Chair Lifts were introduced which are the most popular Aerial Lifts. There are single, double, fixed grip quad and high speed quad and eight seater chair lifts currently available in ski resorts. During cold windy weather, it is more comfortable to have a covering above you and then enjoy the scenery. High speed chair with a bubble cover was then implemented, but more convenient were the Gondolas or Cable Cars and Rotating Gondolas. You can just enter in the Gondolas and leave when it stops at the destination. Cholondas are a newer version of aerial life which is the combination of high speed chairlifts and Gondolas. The Trams, Double Decker Tram, the Funicular and the Train are also found in many Ski resorts, which are used for longer distances and carry many people simultaneously.
Even though there are many advanced ski lifts systems, T-Bars are the most commonly used ski lifts for exploring the alps. Unlike Aerial lifts, the skiers can get down from the T-Bar ski lifts even before reaching the hilltop/destination as per their wish. Apart from that, it is one of the most economical solution for beginners who wanted to practice on small slopes.