The Poma lift, while resembling a T-Bar lift, is unlike any other lift that you will see on a ski hill. Often you will hear a Poma lift called a Button lift due to the tiny seat on it that resembles a button. Poma lifts derive their name from the main manufacturer of them, Pomagalski.
A Poma lift is essentially a pole with a seat suspended from a set of springs that connect it to a high-level moving cable. The springs in the arrangement give the impression of a pogo stick and hence the nickname, "pogo stick of the ski hill".
Obviously riding a contraption of this sort will take some getting used to and being a snowboarder you will have a little extra learning curve to contend with. A Poma lift is designed with skiers in mind. A skier can easily separate their legs in order to step over the seat of a lift. A snowboarder has booth feet attached to a common surface making stepping over anything impossible.
The biggest trick to riding a chair lift is getting the technique correct. You will glide into the loading area with your back foot out of the binding on your snowboard. This is common for almost all types of lifts so it is a good skill to get used to. To move around push with your rear foot much like riding a skateboard. You may wish to practice riding like this on flat ground and on gentle slopes before trying to mount the lift. An easy way to keep your balance is to rest your rear foot on the anti-slip pad as you move.
When it is your turn, very shortly after the previous rider has gotten on to the Poma, you will glide into the lift area. While standing in the lift track reach out with your hand and grab the handle of the Poma as it approaches you. Once you have a grip on the handle lift your rear leg and swing it over the seat. The motion is much the same as jumping onto a bike or a horse.
The last hurdle to over come is the release at the top of the hill. In order to free yourself you will need to stand up and slightly spring yourself forward in order to gently launch yourself out of the lift track while swinging your rear leg over the seat. It can be difficult to do this at first so take it slow. Many people prefer to shift their weight out of the seat as they approach the end of the lift so that they are sliding on their snowboard before they try to swing their rear leg free. The lift operator will slow or even stop the lift in order to get you out of the track safely.
Once you are on the lift you have over come the great majority of the problems that you may encounter. The main problem that happens when riding a Poma is that riders catch their snowboard in the snow and fall off the lift seat or wind catches them and pushes them off since they didn’t expect it. The best way to avoid these problems is to hold on tight and keep the tip of your snowboard high and straight.
As with anything else you do, practice makes perfect. While a Poma lift is not all that common in North America it is used extensively around the world. Having a little knowledge about it and knowing the basic skills required will make it that much easier to ride when you do encounter one.