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The 10 BEST Ski Lifts in the WORLD

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#1 AIGUILLE DU MIDI – Chamonix, France

aiguille du midi chamonix france best ski lift in the world

Yeah, no bullsh#t, it drops you off right here at 12,605 feet.  Your happy, mellow ski day ends now…

- Built in 1955, held title as highest cable car on Earth for 20 years

- Carries 65 passengers

- Highest vertical ascent cable car in the world traveling from 1,035 m to 3,842 m (3,396 ft to 12,605 ft)

- Altitude gain of over 2,800 meters (9,186 ft) in 20 minutes

- Top of tram has a panoramic viewing platform, a cafe, and a gift shop

- Arguably, the gnarliest lift accessed skiing on Earth

- “Ski an off-piste or out of bounds run in Chamonix and your life becomes your ante.  You are responsible for your existence in a game where losing means checking out for good.” – Greg Stump

- Video of skiing off the Aiguille du Midi

 

#2 LA GRAVE – La Grave, France

la grave has a pulse gondola

Yep, that’s a burly old gondy and some truly terrifying terrain.  La Grave, France.

- Sketchy 2 stage pulse gondola that occasionally comes off the cables on windy days

- Rises from 1,450 meters to 3,200 meters (4,757 ft to 10,500 ft)

- Access to a run of 2,300 vertical meters (7,546 vertical feet) from the top of this pulse gondola

- No ski patrol, no avy control, no grooming…this is as raw and French as it gets

- “This fearsomely beautiful and wild ski area (it cannot really be described as a ‘resort’) in the southern French Alps (Département des Hautes Alpes) is a one-off: no groomed runs, no snow cannon, no ski patrol or avalanche control, minimal lifts – and more than 7,000 vertical feet of mainly ‘ski sauvage’.” – Sidartha

- Video of skiing in La Grave

 

#3 JACKSON HOLE TRAM – Jackson Hole, Wyoming

cable carThe Tram-icopter, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

- Travels from 6,311 feet to 10,450 feet

- Provides longest continuous skiable vertical drop in USA at 4,139 feet.

- First opened in 1966.  New tram opened in 2007.

- 100 passenger capacity

- Longest vertical rise of any lift in North America

- Access to 5,500 acres (backcountry and inbounds)

“It’s a 4,000 foot short cut to some of the best backcountry in North America. From the top, you can ski practically all fall-line to the base. It’s hard to find access like that anywhere in the world, let alone North America.” – Griffin Post

- Video of skiing Jackson Hole Tram

 

#4 MONT FORT TRAM – Verbier, Switzerland

mont fort tram verbier best ski lift in the world

Mont Fort Cable Car and some of the burl that you can access after you step out.  Verbier, Switzerland.

- Top station at 3,308 meters (10,853 ft)

- 8,239 foot run from Top of Mont Fort Tram

- Access to Bec de Rosses, site of the finals of the Freeride World Tour

- Endless scary backcountry terrain; you can ski to Zermatt from this lift

- “That mountain is…is…just scares me.”Henrick Windstedt

- Video of skiing & riding the Mont Fort Tram

 

#5 TS MARTE – Las Leñas, Argentina

las leñas ts marteOh, that’s weird…windy?  On the Marte chair?  That never happens…

- Slow, sketchy ass double chair

- Access to 43,243 acres of terrain, nope that’s not a typo

- 3,936 vertical foot runs from top of chair

- Top elevation of 3,430 meters (11,250 ft)

- “Heli skiing from a chairlift in some of the best freeride terrain on the planet.”Tim Konrad

- Video of skiing the Marte in Las Leñas

 

#6 KT-22 – Squaw Valley, California

squaw’s kt 22 chari

The KT-22 power lapping machine.

- Ranked #1 Chairlift in North America by many publications on numerous occasions.

- At a ski resort that averages 450” per year and got 810” in 2010/11

- From 6,200 feet to 8,000 feet in under 6 minutes

- Built for the 1960 Olympics, replaced by a high speed quad in 1995

- May have been ranked higher before KSL bought it and made sure lift lines were perpetually heinous

“KT gives you access to some of the best, most snow covered, fun freeride terrain at any ski resort on Earth.  The chair gets you back to the top again in under 6 minutes.  You can’t lap terrain like this, at speeds like this anywhere.  KT is why there’s a plethora of rowdy, ridiculous skiers & riders at Squaw; they get more practice in freeride terrain than anyone.” – Miles Clark

- Video of skiing KT-22

 

# 7 PEAK CHAIR – Whistler, Canada

whistler’s peak chair

Killer huck-wild zones off the Peaky.

- Rises to top of Whistler Mountain at 7,160 feet

- Opened in 1986, made high speed quad in 1998

- This chair is what made Whistler the largest alpine ski area in North America

- From the top of this chair you can ski 4,978 vertical feet

- 401 meters (1,316 feet) of elevation gain

- Access to Whistler’s legendary alpine terrain

“You might be a lift line hero for the day…or an internet sensation for the year.  It’s the only place that you can watch the circus, then join in 5 minutes later.” Eliel Hindert

- Video of skiing the Peak Chair at Whistler

 

#8 Snowbird Tram – Snowbird, Utah

the tram at snowbirdGrabbin’ an old school box at Snowbird on a happy pow day is pure 3,000 foot joy.

- Opened in 1971

- Travels from 7,760 feet to 11,000 feet in 10 minutes to top of Hidden Peak

- 3,240 vertical foot runs

- Access to 2,500 acres

- Mountain averages 500” per year

- “The Tram is the best lift in the world because you get all the goodness of Snowbird all from one lift. You can access almost the entire mountain and ski 3-4 times as much steep terrain in one run as you can at Squaw Valley. Plus it really doesn’t smell as bad as people say”Daryn Edmunds

-Video of skiing the Snowbird Tram

 

#9 LONE PEAK TRAM – Big Sky, MT

big sky lone peak tramThe tube at Big Sky only fits 15, but everyone gets a view…

- Opened in 1995

- Travels to top of Lone Mountain at 11,166 feet.

- 15 minute ride that climbs 1,450 vertical feet

- Carries 15 passengers

- 3,640 vertical foot run

- Option to ski rowdy terrain in the A-Z chutes

- The mountain averages 400” per year

- “One of the special things about Big Sky and Lone Peak is the terrain they let you access, it’s very European.  They give you ample opportunity to get into whatever you wanna try to ride.”Erik Morrison

- Video of riding the Lone Peak Tram

#10 SINGLE CHAIR – Mad River Glen, Vermont

mad river glen’s single chairThe infamous Single Char at Mad River Glen.  It’s a true American skiing experience.

- Here’s one for you, my East Coast brethren, we know how much you love this chair

- The Single Chair is the fastest fixed-grip chairlift in the United States of America

- 9.7 – 12 minutes to top

- Has its own beer named after it:  Single Chair Ale brewed by Magic Hat Brewing Co.

- “The best thing about the Single Chair is being able to pick your nose in private.”Confucius

- Video of the Single Chair history

 

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162 comments
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  • Puzzled Lone Peak Tram Rider

    So how does one get access to the A-Z chutes from the Lone Peak Tram……HMMM. I mean I live and Ski here, glad Lone Peak Made it in the top ten but your info is a lil off….maybe you should come and ski here and show me the route you take from the tram to the A-Z chutes..lol that stuff is off of The Challenger lift(Big Sky) or Headwaters lift(Moonlight Basin) which also has the longest/fastest high speed detachable 6 person lift in the world….do your home work!

    • MTSucks

      Oh, I’m sure you could do it if you really wanted… Just ski over to the Apple Core entrance then climb up and over a few cliff bands along the ridge. Piece of cake!

  • woodchuck

    Roca Jack gets you more steep vert faster than anything, immediate access to a huge amount of terrain at 11,000+ feet with few skiers and the hike-to Super C couloir (among others) above. Some of the world’s best freeskiers and alpine racers are on it in Aug/Sep. Simple, elegant device that rips five up at once – impossible in the U.S. given insurance situation. Best rodeo in town.

    Kurodake tram also worth an honorable mention.

    • Ryan

      You gotta have skills to get on the Roca Jack…. not everyone makes it to the top.

      The Lone Peak Tram gives you an incrediable ride to some very rugged terrain. Top 5!

  • Jonas

    When it comes to skiing and ski-lifts, Europe crushes America.
    You can’t even compare the two.
    Europe is wilder, steeper, scarier, bigger, higher, cheaper and A LOT better.

  • BIRDO

    HOW THE HELL IS K2 EVEN ON THE LIST????????????? SQUAW SUCKS!!
    KIRKWOOD CIRQUE IS BETTER THAN ANY PIECE OF SQUAW!!!!
    YOU CAN TELL WHO RUNS THE WEBSITE TRY JACKSON OR SNOWBIRD IF
    YOU WANT MORE THAN 2 TURNS PER RIDE, EVEN BETTER STAY IN TAHOE WITH THE REST OF THE SQUEERS.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Snowbird whiners….
    Stop complaining about the #8 rank for your tram!
    Maybe if Snowbird allowed your tram operators to do the following you would be higher up the list:
    1. Play Music
    2. Give a fun tram speech
    3. Ditch the easiest way down routine during the speech
    4. Play Music

    • Todd in JH

      My thoughts exactly. I skied AltaBird for 7 years before Jackson Hole. They always were afraid of upsetting the tourists at Snowbird.

      In Jackson they crank the tunes up to ’11’ on a pow day. Nothing was better than getting first tram with AC/DC, Guns n’ Roses, ‘Danger Zone’, or any other good loud rock tunes then pow all the way down. Oh ya no fun tram speech, they tell gapers/dusters/beaters this is the craziest terrain you’ll ever see & us local view it as everyday life.

      Jackson sucks, tell your friends.

  • Jumbo

    Challenger chair in Sun Valley. Mayday chair in Sun Valley. 2 of the best chairs in North America. Never have to take your skis off.

    • Anonymous

      Skied the Mayday chair all day today, with over a foot of powder. My husband is passed out and we both can barely walk we skied so hard today. Thousands of vertical feet in the Bowls, with plenty of fresh turns for all, all day long! Not one lift line, no one pushing and shoving like Squaw Valley. I grew up skiing KT22 and you couldn’t pay me to ski it now. Give me the fixed triple Mayday Chair and the Bowls of Mt Baldy over anything Tahoe has to offer.

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  • Big O

    What about:
    -Revelation Gondola
    -Titlis Rotair
    -Le Marais in Tignes
    -Mont Fort in Verbier
    -Gletscherbahn 1, Kaprun, Austria
    -Silverton Lift

  • Tommy Lee

    This should just be Top 10 North American Lifts to keep the list clean and then if it was, Chair 5 of the Back Bowls of Vail has to be on the list. Accesses an amazing acreage of perfect pitched powder runs. Extreme terrain, not much, endless linked turns plenty!

  • MTSucks

    I’m gonna give Bridger Bowl’s Schlasman’s lift a nod for lift accessed rowdy terrain… Lots of ways to kill gapers off this lift!

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  • Spirit76

    Really? How can snowbird’s tram possibly be in the top 10 of a world list? Puleeze.
    Ahead of the Matterhorn Express at Zermatt, or the amazing experience of the Le Brevent gondy? Pick any of several trams at Couremeyer in Italy/France, or the Grand Montets tram, or top-to-bottom at Revelstoke, or the El Colorado chair that accesses Santa Teresa high atop the Chilean Andes. There really are no comparisons to be made.
    Where’s the Alyeska Tramway (your vip pass to North Face), or the amazing lifts (plural) at Termas de Chillan, or Chile’s triple at Portillo, or the Kicking Horse gondola in Canada? The list could go on..
    Having skied all of these places, as well as snowbird, it is clear to me this author is either clueless or biased.
    Any one of the areas just listed would rank ahead of snowbird. In truth, if this were a credible article, SB and Squaw couldn’t even make a top 20 list!

  • Spirit76

    Ok, I withdraw my harsh jab at the author. Admittedly a tad dramatic. After all, the article has provoked some good discussion. And dreaming.

  • ridiculous

    the fact that an east coast chairlift made your top 10 will be the reason I will never return to your site………….are you f____in’ kidding me? I would rather ride Far East chairlift than put self through the misery of an east coast run.

  • John W

    Gold Hill was FORMERLY sick when you could ski down Bear Creek drainage to town. That’s before a jackhole bought a bogus mining claim and blocked access.

    • Mdskier

      YES, A legal OB powder run down Bear Creek drainage with 20 inches of blower powder 6 years ago was my all time best run Ever, Anywhere. Nothing else comes close.

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  • fuk KT

    Far East at Squaw: high speed 6-pack with ZERO lift lines. Get in 10 scary tree runs in while your friends are still waiting for KT lift line to move.

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  • just turning

    Cham being my home mountain, i’m glad the midi is number 1. Someone said it earlier, how is it that Helbronner in Italy is not on the list and KT on the list?
    I get the squaw influence and the whole ‘you dont like it, dont come’ – no problem! But i would invite you to come check out a place like Cham, even the ‘snow measure’ argument is pointless – its impossible to measure how much snow has fallen in a season, because we are skiing a mountain range, not a resort.
    I check UN once in a while, but man, the euro sites are better.

  • random guy

    @Mont Fort:
    1) you don’t have a direct access to bec de rosses from the top of the mont fort gondola. you would till have to go down to col de gentianes (bottom station of the mont fort gondola) or col de la chaux to get to bec de rosses.
    2) yes, you can ski to zermatt form the top of mont fort. but you will have to cross several valleys and glaciers to get there. it’s not a single run from mont fort.
    3) verbier x speed starts a few meters below the top station. quite impressive sound …

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