Fixed-grip Chairlifts = Slow, Endearing, Nostalgic, and Blissful

Fixed-grip Chairlifts = Slow, Endearing, Nostalgic, and Blissful


Fixed-grip Chairlifts = Slow, Endearing, Nostalgic, and Blissful


Now, more than ever, ski resorts are starting to replace fixed-grip lifts with larger capacity high-speed lifts. With more people skiing, and the introduction of mega passes like the Ikon and Epic pass, resorts need more up-hill capacity.

High-speed lifts are costly, but barring the installation of a tram or gondola, they are only the only viable option to ramp up a resort’s up-hill capacity.

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The Ramcharger 8 person lift debuted at Big Sky, MT last year

You and I both know that high-speed lifts are great. They’re quick (obviously), they’re efficient, and the loading/unloading process is much smoother at slower speeds. I get why resorts are turning to them, but I can’t help but feel an attachment to fixed-grip lifts. Call me lame, but Kendrick Lamar said it best, “That’s just how I feel”.

Kendrick also said “Bitch don’t kill my vibe”. My vibe is riding a nice two-seat fixer. Why you might ask? Maybe it’s the nostalgia. I grew up skiing Smuggler’s Notch, VT which is notorious for only having fixed-grip doubles that run up to it’s peaks.

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Views from Smuggs

There’s just something about the peaceful ride up a slow lift. You have more time to view the scenery and rest after your runs. It’s also a time to make friends on the hill. I can’t tell you the amount of times that being stuck on a 15 minute chair ride led to amazing conversations on a chair lift.

I feel like I may be losing people at this point… Look, I am a 70-year-old man stuck in the body of a mid-20 year old. I like things the way they are, I enjoy a nice documentary, and I am dreadfully fearful of change… is that such a crazy thing?

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The Mad River Glenn Single Chair. I have not had the pleasure of riding it, yet.

But seriously, there’s so much we owe to fixed-gripped chairlifts. They revolutionized up-hill mountain travel.  I am not saying that every fixer should remain, I’m just saying let’s appreciate the one’s that are still out there. Let this quick rant serve as an ode to those slow beauties.

Check out my favorite fixed-gripped chairs left in the US.

Madonna I Chairlift- Smuggler’s Notch, VT

Vertical Served: 2,150 ft.

Year Installed: 1963

Number of Riders Per Chair: 2

Pallavicini Lift- Arapahoe Basin, CO

Vertical Served: 1328 ft.

Year Installed: 1978, new lift installed in 2020

Number of Riders Per Chair: 2

Jupiter Lift- Park City, UT

Park City Jupiter Lift - YouTube

Vertical Served: 1000 ft.

Year Installed: 1976

Number of Riders Per Chair: 2

Which chairs did I miss?

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