How to Ride a T Bar Ski Lift on a Snowboard

If you spend enough time at the resort as a snowboarder, you are sure to come across a few things that seem more suited for skiers. A T bar ski lift is one of these. These older-style lifts can be difficult to ride if you don’t have experience with them. 

I’ve been snowboarding for most of my life, and I’ve ridden every type of lift out there. I have first-hand experience riding T bars and know how to do this properly as a snowboarder. 

This post will show you how to ride a T bar ski lift on a snowboard. I’ll give you some tips and tricks to keep in mind when dealing with these dated lifts to help you take advantage of the terrain they let you explore. 

Let’s get started. 

What is a T Bar Ski Lift? 

A T bar ski lift is a bit old school and is basically a piece of metal that looks like an upside down T. This lift pulls skiers and snowboarders up the mountain without actually lifting them off the ground. 

T bars have been around for a long time and were initially developed for skiers. While snowboarders can still use them, it’s not always as easy or intuitive for them to do so and can take a bit of practice. 

How to Get on a T Bar on a Snowboard

Here are the steps for getting on a T bar on a snowboard and riding effectively uphill. While this is how I do it, there are a few different techniques that some other riders use. Whatever works best for you is the way to go about it. 

Step 1: Unstrap Your Back Foot and Get Into Line

As you approach the line for the T bar, remove your back foot from your snowboard bindings just as you would with any other lift. Then get into line and wait your turn to get on the lift. 

Step 2: Watch Other Snowboarders

If it’s your first time attempting a T bar, it’s important to learn from other riders. Watch the snowboarders in front of you to see how they get on the T bar. The tips here will help too, but there is nothing as effective as learning visually. 

Step 3: Approach the Loading Area

When it’s your turn to take the T bar, approach the loading area in control and alert. The lift operators will guide you to the proper location, and there will typically be a line or sign indicating where to stand. 

Keep your board’s nose pointed forward as the next T bar swings around the bottom of the lift and comes your way. Use your back foot to push yourself forward until you are in the proper loading location.  

Step 4: Grab the Bar and Place it Between Your Legs

As the T bar gets close to you, the lift operator will grab it and hand it to you. Take hold of the bar and place one end of the T between your legs. The uphill pull of the bar will force the T against your uphill leg. 

Make sure to hang on with both hands as the bar starts to pull you uphill. The bar can slip out quickly if you don’t. Some riders will hang on with a single hand or no hands at all, but those people are more experienced with riding a T bar. 

Step 5: Hang on and Bend Your Knees

As the bar starts to pull you uphill, you want to make sure to hang on and stay in a natural snowboarding stance. This will help you stay balanced and in control as you get pulled uphill. Bend your knees slightly and remain engaged in the core and hips. 

You want to avoid turning or twisting because this can result in you catching an edge and falling, which means you’ll need to head back to the bottom and try again. 

Step 6: How to Get Off a T Bar on a Snowboard

When you get close to the top of the lift, it’s time to start thinking about the dismount. When you near the unloading zone, you can grab ahold of the long length of the bar and pull it out from between your legs. 

You still want to hold onto the bar with your hands until you are in the officially unloading zone, but you don’t want to wait until the very end to remove the bar from between your legs. 

When you are on the downhill section of the unloading zone, you can let go of the bar and use momentum to go to a place where you can strap in and start riding. 

How Do You Sit on T Bar? 

As a snowboarder, you don’t really sit on a T bar. If you try to sit down completely, you will lose balance, and you won’t be able to ride it. You can lean down onto the bar a bit, but you don’t want to put all your weight on it.  

If you watch skiers, it may look like they are sitting on the bar. But don’t let that fool you as a snowboarder. Even though skiers can use the entire length of the bar, they still can’t really sit down on it without issues. 

Final Thoughts

Riding a T bar is a good skill to learn if you want to access terrain that some riders won’t ever get the chance to. Often, T bars are located on higher elevation slopes where a proper chair lift isn’t possible. 

This means you can get access to fresh powder and other excellent terrains. So don’t get frustrated if you take a while to learn. It’s worth it, trust me!

About Lorraine
I'm a certified snowboard instructor. My first experience with snowboarding occurred at an indoor resort. One run had me hooked, and it has turned into a lifelong passion ever since then. I'm here to share with you some of the tips and advice I have learned along the way.

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