#1 AIGUILLE DU MIDI – Chamonix, France
– 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
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
The 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 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
Oh, 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
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
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
Grabbin’ 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
The 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
The 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