Did you know that the lowly rope tow is an invention that is 71 years old and single handedly created a demand for downhill skiing? Our story begins in Vermont in the 1800 when cross-country skiing started to become popular and even profitable for businesses in 1892. Cross-country skiing was all there was until about 1930 when the adventurous idea of downhill skiing started to catch on.
Of course downhill skiing was exhilarating but not all that much fun back then. After rushing down a hill the skier had to walk all the way back to the top of the hill. This meant that most people could only make about six runs a day and where very tired from all the hill climbing. This need for a better solution turned into the rope tow in 1934.
In 1934 an inventive hill owner in Vermont decided to spend the extravagant amount of $500 to place a Ford engine at the top of the hill that was used to drive a pulley that allowed a rope to cycle from the top of the hill to the bottom. Now skiers could make many runs a day and starting enjoying the sport as well as promoting it.
Using any lift can be a daunting task especially for a novice rider. It moves fast, is crowded and requires some movements that you would not normally do. The good news is that the ‘bark is worse than the bite’ in this case.
Riding a rope tow is a little different from riding other lifts due to the fact that you will be on the ground the entire time. This means that you ride the rope tow the same way you would ride down the hill. The first step is to determine which way you will mount the rope. When standing beside the rope your body should face towards it. If your left foot is forward then you would want to mount the rope from the left-hand side.
This leads us to possibly the most difficult part of the rope tow, getting to it. You must keep your front foot in the mounts and use your rear foot to push you towards and on to the rope tow. While moving around like this it is very easy to trip or loose control. Always use a leash to protect others, your gear and yourself.
When it is your turn there are a few things to keep in mind. First you will want to push off towards the rope tow and into the channel formed by all the other users. It is best to have a little momentum before grabbing onto the rope tow so that you are not suddenly pulled forward and end up doing a face plant.
Here come the most important details for riding a rope tow. No matter what you thinks you know about physics do not try to lower your self to a sitting type position or lean back. If you lean back you will end up landing on your butt with your snowboard launched straight up into the air. If you try to sit down while riding the rope you will not be able to adjust to any bumps or changes in speed as well as if you are basically standing. Another important point is to flex your knees while riding the lift.
If you keep all of this information in mind you will have no problems mastering the rope tow. The skills that you pick up from riding the rope tow will make other forms of lifts much easier to ride. If you have any questions be sure to ask an instructor, lift operator or anyone around you that seems comfortable riding the lifts. Everyone had to learn how to ride the lifts at some point.