The 5 Scariest Lifts in the World:

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Aguillle du Midi, Chamonix, France
Aguillle du Midi, Chamonix, France

We’ve all had a scary experience on a chairlift, tram, or gondola.  Some lifts are scarier than others, and that should be recognized. put together a list of the 5 scariest lifts in the world, along with some details as to why each lift is great at raising the hairs on the back of your neck.  We personally get freaked out every time we ride Red Dog at Squaw Valley…

The 5 Scariest Lifts in the World

#1. The Penkenbahn, Mayrhofen, Austria

Dangers: High winds – a regular occurrence in the Zillertal valley – can make the gondolas swing violently.


#2. The Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix, France

Danger: High winds, rocks falling off the cliff, temperature differences in the cables, avalanches, and cornice falls, plus classic French overcrowding that pushes the car beyond its weight limit. What more do you need?

Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix, France
Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix, France

#3. The whole lift system Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

Danger: Karakol is probably the sketchiest resort in this article because while it would be hideous to experience a cable accident anywhere (and there are certainly higher lifts out there), it’s a long way from Karakol to the nearest hospital – down a frozen dirt road.

Chairlift in Karakol, Issyk-Kul Oblast. photo: Vlad Ushakov

#4. The Vanoise Express, La Plagne-Les Acrs, France

Dangers: In 2003, before the lift opened to the public, one of the test drivers (no doubt several Vin Chauds to the good) apparently managed to crash the cable car into the station on the Peisey-Vallandry side. He was supposedly traveling at about twenty-km/h at the time – ten times the normal docking speed! And who said the French were bad drivers? Thankfully, they’ve since put a computer in charge of the controls…

The Vanoise Express, La Plagne-Les Acrs, France
The Vanoise Express, La Plagne-Les Acrs, France

#5. The Freccia, Cortina, Italy

Dangers: Old cables, sketchy doors that are hand-bolted, fragile aluminum from four decades ago, rock falls, avalanches, vertigo, sphincter over-tightening, claustrophobia, fur coats suffocating you with their musty stench…. the list is endless.

The Freccia, Cortina, Italy
The Freccia, Cortina, Italy. photo: james mcphail

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19 thoughts on “The 5 Scariest Lifts in the World:

  1. Howard, you need to go ski in Europe, you’ll laugh at our slopes. Whistler/Blackcomb and Revelstoke, plus one or two others are good, but go ski off the top of the Titlis tram, or the Rothornbahn, or the MIDI and you’ll see.

  2. So true. Plus you got to realize MBA’s from the Ivy League are making the decisions, in other words, flatlanders. Look at aspen, owned by Chicagoans, what a joke.

  3. I love taking my Colorado friends for their 1st ride at Squaw on Red Dog!
    I met Miles on that lift too!
    I hear the ride down on red dog can be exciting also…

  4. Notice how its all in Europe? Where they actually have ski resorts at the top of big mountain ranges? Not like America where we have ski resorts near easy access to highways?

    Why is that you ask? Because no new ski resorts have been built or expanded since the 70’s.

    Thank you very much you crazy tree hugger enviros. Good job at moving the Squaw-Alpine gondola over a couple hundred feet. You’re really saving the world.

    1. Silverton, Tamarack, Cherry Peak, Mount Bohemia- these are all ski areas that have opened in the last 20 years. Is it more possible that ski areas with 7k vert need longer lifts and tram than America’s average 2k vert resort? FYI Kyrgyzstan is not in Europe

    1. Or on e-stop when one section of the heavy side would go up 40 feet then down 40 feet. My stomach was never synced with the chair.

    1. Wow what completely wrong statement in every way. Have you been to say Big Sky, Telluride, Jackson Hole? Also the base elevation of most European ski resorts are at a much lower altitude than the Rockies or the Sierra Nevada range. Hence the long steep lifts and longer verts No new ski areas since the 70s? Hmm I must have tripping back in 1998 when I was at open day of Blacktail Mountain in Montana. Here’s a few others. Mount Bohemia, MI (2000) Silverton Mountain, CO (2002) Tamarack Resort, ID (2004), Cherry Peak, UT (2015) Maybe a little research and a geography lesson would help you out.

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