Wanderings, travel, photographs and skiing…

The use of ski lift safety bars in Utah – the mystery deepens…

By on February 17, 2015 in USA

The mystery of the lack of ski lift safety bars continues.

Today I skied the Canyons Ski Area and again observed a general reluctance amongst skiers and boarders to use the safety bar on lifts.

During the day we carried out some experiments to see if there was a pattern to the lack of use of lift safety bars. Was it lift specific? Or group specific? Or something else?

The experiment was quite simple – we got on lifts with other skiers and boarders and didn’t lower the bar. We left it to the others to decide whether or not the bar stayed up or was lowered. Unfortunately, one unintended side effect of this experiment was a number of quite scary lift rides with the bar up.

I did wonder if it was a certain type of person that didn’t lower the bar. My guess was that it would be young boarders and skiers that wouldn’t lower the bar, and families with kids that would. I was wrong. There was no discernable pattern in our highly unscientific study. It didn’t seem to matter who was on the chair.

On one lift ride, I shared a chair with a member of the ski patrol, and I was surprised to find that they didn’t immediately lower the bar as we left the lift station. When I mentioned this after a few minutes, they said they were just about to ask to lower it.

During the ride to the top, I asked the ski patroller about the safety bar issue I had observed, and they said they had also seen it. When I asked why it was happening, there was no real answer. The ski patroller thought that in part it was coolness (that doesn’t explain families with young kids are not lowering the bar) and in part a lack of a State law that required the bar to be lowered. One other passenger on the lift suggested that not using the bar was an expression of the ‘spirit of the west’ – sorry, but I’m not buying that one…

Guess I will never get to the bottom of the great safety bar mystery.

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
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