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6 Ways We’re Beating The Lift Lines This Season

And How To Pass The Time If You Get Stuck In One

No great pursuit comes without some compromises, and skiing at the resort is no exception. For every knee-deep powder line there’s a different kind of line: the dreaded yet often unavoidable lift line. And if you think you’re imagining longer waits this year, you’re not. Epic Pass presale numbers skyrocketed, increasing by 76% this season.

But let’s be real—no matter how long the lines get, they’re not going to stop you from sending. Here are six ways we’re beating the wait this season without, of course, elbowing your way to the front like an old-timer in the Alps. 

1. Pick The Right Resort

From Killington to Mammoth, every range has a resort that makes the mountains worth visiting. While these resorts live up to their names in the way of world-class runs, top terrain, and sublime snow, they also usually come with a lot of riders looking for those qualities, too. Consider checking out a smaller neighboring resort to avoid the line the big resorts bring.

2. Get There Early

Don’t let backcountry skiers be the only ones chasing sunrise. It’s the advice we all know, but hate hearing: If you want to beat the lines, you’ve got to get there early—like pre-dawn-patrol early. In fact, if you follow this one tip you may just beat traffic and lift lines alike. Once you get to the mountain, grab your killer parking spot, roll out a blanket, put the seat down, and take a nap or brew some coffee and watch the sunrise until the lifts start spinning. Or, if you’ve got a backcountry set up and the resort allows uphill travel during off-hours, start hiking, then ski down to grab first chair. 

Gearhead Tip: If you’re really a morning person, break out the camp grill and whip up some pre-lap pancakes—bonus point for sharing.

3. Get There Late

You might be thinking, “Hey, I thought I was supposed to get there early!” And you’re right, but some of us are incapable of beating the sunrise. If you insist on getting your beauty rest, all isn’t lost. Lines usually thin during lunch and in the afternoon, especially after the post-lunch “last lap” rush. Set your sights for 1:30pm and enjoy a couple hours of solid skiing before the lifts stop. 

4. Weekdays Are The Best Days

Not all of us can swing it, but if you can, try to visit your favorite resort during the weekday. Since most of us have Saturday and Sunday off, those are the days you’ll find the craziest lines. If you’re a weekday worker who’s lucky enough to WFH, consider WFL (work from lodge/lot) using a mobile hotspot or even WFC (work from chairlift—who said you can’t take a quick zoom call in between laps?). 

Gearhead Tip: In our experience this season, Tuesdays seem to be the least line-y days of the week.

5. Find The Lost Lift

Mid-mountain, backside, across the parking lot—there’s always a lift (often a two-seater or t-bar) that the locals go loco for since visitors don’t know it exists. Your mission? Explore the resort and find the secret lift by all means because the lines will likely be much shorter (and the pow probably better).

6. Pack A Snack

It’s a hard fact to face, but sometimes those long lines are completely unavoidable, and in those cases, you have to dig in, get comfy, and join the crowd. Try to look at the line as a good opportunity to catch your breath, let your legs rest, send that overdue text to your mom, and refuel your calories so nothing’s stopping you when you’re shredding the bumps. Anyway, what else are all those bib and jacket pockets for if not snacks? 

Gearhead Tip: Don’t forget headphones. Like long road trips, lift lines are a great place to catch up on podcasts.

Alex Moliski is a writer at Backcountry. When he’s not typing, he’s exploring the country, climbing, skiing, or backpacking somewhere remote. See more of his stories on Instagram @alexmoliski