Trials of the T-Bar: tips for your first time

I’ve become much better at snowboarding over the past few seasons, but the T-Bar at Breckenridge can still give me pause. Getting up to the top with a snowboard is always a bit of a challenge. So if there’s anyone else out there that always thinks it’s an accomplishment to make it in one piece, here are some of the things I’ve learned from my successes (as well as my occasional “opportunities for improvement”).

1. Pick Your Partner

The T-Bar can get busy, especially on the weekends. There are few ways to earn the wrath of a long line like not buddying up, and a little good karma never hurt anyone. So who is the best to partner with? In my experience, try to go with a skier rather than another snowboarder if possible. If you are going with another boarder, don’t pair up with another same-footed person. If you have two goofy (or regular)-footed people on the same bar, someone will have to reach around their back to hold on. Both your chances for success and your comfort on the way up will improve greatly if you can manage to avoid this.

2. Set Your Stance

So your front foot is strapped in and your body is facing in towards the bar? You’re ready to ride. There are different techniques for holding the bar, but the one that’s worked for me is planting your back foot on your stomp pad and situating the bottom of the bar underneath the hip of your back leg. I’ve watched people negotiate it so they put the bar between their legs so it’s pushing against your front leg rather than your back, but that’s always seemed like an intimidatingly chaotic start. Getting the bar situated low enough is important – I’ve definitely had spills mid-way up if the bar starts to ride too high on my butt/back. (This quickly brings me back to the pairing choices in #1. If you can pick someone close to your own height, it will help with the bar placement!)

Photo credit: Marc's Blog http://marc.merlins.org/

3. Heading Up

Hold on and don’t sit! For me the hardest part of the ride up is shifting my weight as the slope of the hill changes while maintaining my balance. Also, my arms get tired, I struggle to keep my board straight, and rarely do I have much fun during this part. This is where you grit your teeth and just think about all that powder at the top.

4. If You Fall

Something didn’t go according to plan? It happens! (I was going to say it happens to the best of us, but I think the truth for me is the “medium-skilled of us” and that didn’t have quite the same ring.) As much as no one likes to fall, the fact of the matter is that no one around you minds as much as you think they do AS LONG AS you get out of the way! Get out of the path of the people behind you as quickly as possibly so you don’t knock anyone else down and create a pileup. And don’t despair if you only make it part way up, there’s still some decent snow and trees off to the side of the liftline.

5. Practice

The best way to get good at it is to do it over and over again. So go earn that “Mr. T” pin on EpicMix and have fun conquering Peak 8!