The Poma Lift

The Moment of Truth

Leslie McKee suggested a post on the iconic Poma lift. She said it would be a good post in and of itself and she is right. How many of you who started skiing battled with the monster of surface lifts as a kid? I can remember moving from the rope tow( which itself burned up many gloves) to the Poma lifts at our local resort. Although we got many comments and instructions on how to ride the Poma, it was always a matter of getting prepared in the track, waiting to grab the right one, and presto……off to the races. As a little kid, they always told me if I fell, not to hold on to the Poma- just let go. But what did most people do? See below. LOL!!!

Don’t hold on………LOL:!!!!!

The other frightening thing as a little kid was if the spring in the Poma was quirky, you would oftentimes be lifted right out of the track, high into the air( or so it seemed) and tried to set your feet down in the track again without falling. You never sat down. You would place the platter between your legs and hang on. Never sit down. The mantra for all of us. Poma lifts became a thing of the past in many areas but still are used to get skiers from place to place in the larger areas out west. There is still a need to connect chair lifts and in a lot of areas the only way is to transport people across a flat via a Poma lift. I have so many memories when I step into the loading zone of a Poma lift these days. I am heavy enough now not to be spring loaded into the stratosphere and I certainly know not to sit down or do what we always did and try to move in and out of the track. We all did that and tried to hang on the pole for as long as we could and launch it at the end of the ride up and laugh when we let it go. We were always the same jagoffs who would jump out of a chairlift if it was low enough and ski away from an operator who was yelling at us threatening to take our passes. Kids!!!!

The T Bar

The cousin to the Poma lift is the T-Bar. More commonly used these days and especially in Europe to transport skiers up the mountain and get them across flats between chairlifts. This lift is ridden by two people and if you were a taller person and you rode with a shorter person, it became a difficult task. The taller person had the part of the bar riding up his or her back while the opposite was true for the shorter person. Constant adjusting and laughing in the case of us youngsters at the time and a little more concerning riding it as an adult. Now for those of you who know me, I am not a confrontational person. However, one time in Austria, I happened to be riding up a T Bar with a shorter French guy. He kept jawing at me in his Gallic dialect and basically was trying to get me to adjust the position of the bar to suit his shorter stature. After a while, and listening to his verbal abuse for longer than one should ever have to, I leaned over to him and said, ” If you keep yelling at me, you are gone.” He either didn’t understand or ignored my warning and he caught my left elbow and was sent careening down the slope never to be seen again. Viva la France!!!!!

Surface lifts were intimidating, frightening, and most of all loads of fun growing up as a kid. I don’t even give them a thought today but when Leslie reminded me of all the fun times we had as kids battling the Poma lifts, I had to jot down some memories. One last one was the Poma lift at our smaller municipal ski area where I was trying to get one of our blind skiers up the hill. Regis Sullivan was a heavy guy and I put the Poma between his legs and mine and we rode up together. I screamed ” stand up Regis” because if he sat down, I am sure the ski patrol would have been involved. Another time I had a nun with a colostomy in the same position with me on the Poma. I laughingly suggested that she stand up and don’t fall. I told her I didn’t want the fallout from that one. LOL!!!! She was very open about her colostomy and I was very open about me not wanting to face the consequences.

So, thanks Leslie. I am sure I will have a few laughs like all of you reading this. Think snow and ………..don’t sit down!!!!!

11 thoughts on “The Poma Lift

  1. Bill Boucher says:

    The real challenge when we were kids was poaching pomas from unlucky skiers who didn’t make tit the first 100 feet or so and allowed us to skip the lift line. Another trick was snowplowing on the steep section of Northface and compressing the internal spring and releasing the snowplow sending us flying into the air for a few feet. Don’t forget the whoop-de-doos.

  2. Rus Davies says:

    Memories galore with surface lifts. Remind me to tell you about the T bat at Cochran’s ski hill in Richmond Vermont. I classify the trsck that day as a Double Black Diamond.

  3. Tony Gallagher says:

    At the age of nine while skiing Boyce Park, I was taught Poma Lift Rule #3: If you fall, fall to the left or right, not straight ahead…

    Otherwise, as you fall forward the disk will lurch from your crotch, taking with it what it can, then attempt to eviscerate your abdomen before lodging momentarily under your sternum so as to preload the spring with its final release of energy right up into your chin snapping your head back and forever leaving its memory in the form of a nasty scar under your chin where no beard will ever grow.

    Poma lifts still give me the heebie-jeebies.

  4. Bubba Hut says:

    Fact, if you put the transmission for the NASTAR rope tow that was on Giant Steps in 4th gear you can make it to the start faster than you could race to the finish and still have enough momentum to spin a helicopter off the lip that made the off load shelf!

  5. Paul Vey says:

    A nun with a colostomy on a poma lift……. now that’s one I never expected to hear about 🙂

    Patrick, always enjoy your blog. Great work! Thank you

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