Pimp my chair ride – the coolest and quirkiest chairlifts of the world

Armentarola. Photo credit: Bandion tourism

Not all chairlifts are created equal, from horse drawn in Italy to pizza box in Japan, some of the world’s best ski resorts offer some of the coolest transport to the top of the hill.

Forget t-bars, how about a double decker tram in France? Not good enough? Try a rotating gondola for a 360 degree in Switzerland

Here’s our pick of six.

Pizza Chair, Madarao Japan

Pizza box chair. Photo credit: Madarao Mountain Resort.

Affectionately known as the pizza box chairlift, this one-person-only lift in Madarao Japan drops you near some of the best advanced and gladed runs in the resort including Adventure Aisle, Crystal Bowl and Powder Theatre. Just the run names alone make you want to brave this dainty chair that hosts no safety bar or footrest.

Titlis Rotair, Engelberg Switzerland

Titlis Rotair. Photo credit: Tourism Switzerland

Three words. Rotating. Cable. Car. Head to Titlis Resort in Engelberg Switzerland where you’ll be whisked 3020m above sea level. This world-first ski lift revolves 360 degrees as a part of its 5-minute ride. Be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding mountain peaks boasting some of the best (and gnarliest) freeride terrain in the world.

The Tram, Jackson Hole Ski Resort USA

Photo credit: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

It’s hard to go past Jackson Hole’s Tram, or Big Red, when listing the coolest chairlifts in ski towns. In just 12 minutes, Big Red can fly 100 people 1260m skyward. Here, revellers enjoy 360-degree views of the famous Teton Mountains and Jackson Hole Valley plus access to a plethora of advanced freeride runs, including the infamous Corbet’s Couloir. Time it right and you could catch a #tramjam, where famous musicians akin to Michael Franti, bust a live tune during the ascent.

Armentarola Ski Lift, Dolomites Italy

Armentarola. Photo credit: Bandion tourism

Located in the centre of the Dolomites is Armentarola and one of the most unique ski lifts on our list. As you make your way down the slope towards the skiable area of Alta Badia, you’ll be met with a flat area, and this is where the excitement begins. Rather than riding a simple rope tow, you’ll instead enjoy the unforgettable experience of being towed by a horse-drawn carriage. Does it get much cooler than that?

Ramcharger, Big Sky USA

Photo credit: Big Sky Resort, Montana

Big Sky’s famous high-speed, high-tech, eight-person Ramcharger 8 chairlift is the chair for the pampered you. It features ergonomically-shaped, extra-wide heated seats, head rests, foot rests and a weather-proof bubble for those bad weather days. Better yet, forget waiting in slow lift queues. The Ramcharger can take on 3,200 riders every hour, dropping them up Andesite Mountain ready to cruise along some of the best intermediate trails Big Sky has on offer.

Vanoise Express double decker, Paradiski, France

Photo credit: Paradiski
This double decker lift links Peisey-Vallandry and La Plagne, across the valley of Peisey-Nancroix. Set at 380 metres above the ground at the highest point, this two cabin two level lift can carry 200 skiers at 45 kms per hour in three minutes and 50 seconds. Add a transparent glass plate on the floor of the lower level cabin and you can enjoy a panorama of the valley plus a plunging view to the floor.

This article was originally published in our FREE 70 page e-mag.

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A natural progression, Aly’s obsession with the mountains and outdoors led her to specialise in Marketing for outdoor sports and tourism brands. She’s been lucky enough to spend most of her working years in the snow industry, lapping up plenty of time on the slopes. These days, she splits her time between marketing for her freelance clients or writing about the mountains she just can’t get enough of.