Originally Posted by gazpacho
The chairs are disconnected from the cable that goes up the mountain and put on a slower cable for loading and unloading. If you pay attention you will notice that the chairs are much farther apart going up the mountain than they are during loading and unloading.
Yup. If you pay attention, when you get on, you can feel the moment when the chair latches onto the cable and takes off at the cable's speed. Correcpondingly, you can feel the release when the chair goes into "coast" around the corner.
Maybe you've heard the term "detachable quad" thrown around, referring to this style of high volume, high speed lift. The detachable gives you WAY more time to get lined up and then seated. The smaller, slower, traditional chairs stay connected to the lift at all time maintaining constant speed. They *can* be slowed manually for newbs learning to get off/on (usually confined to 1 specific run or beginner's lift), or to accomodate any untoward events.
One time I was getting on the "regular" lift and the tail of my ski caught a tiny edge of exposed platform and released just as the lift wooshed me away. They slowed the lift at the top manually, so I could hobble off, and sent my ski up with the next guy. But if they had to do this for everyone it would be a slow ride.