Chairlifts, gondolas, cable cars and draglifts. Most of us take them for granted and expect fast lifts around every corner - but some lifts are slightly more special than others as the following list shows:

Lift technology has advanced incredibly quickly over recent years and replacement lifts are being built apace across the mountains each summer. However, in attempts to stand out from the crowd, resorts are pressing the major lift manufacturers (Doppelmayr, Leitner-Poma, LST & BMF) for unique features to help their project stand out from the crowd. Some might call these gimmicks – let us know what you think – but what they certainly show is some pretty impressive engineering.

The rotating chairlift - Laax (Switzerland)

Perhaps the most innovative chairlift to have been built so far was for the resort of Laax in 2012. Lift manufacturer BMF-Bartholet partnered with Porsche design to build a rotating (by 45° to get the best view), solar-heated chair with leather sports-car seats. Although this sounds like a daunting task, the new lift was built within schedule and is amongst the most popular in the area – especially as it serves some of the best off piste in Laax.

The longest (and scariest) gap between pylons – Whistler (Canada)

The Peak2Peak Gondola transformed the skiing experience at Whistler-Blackcomb when it was build back in 2008. The lift crosses up to 436m above the mighty Fitzsimmons Valley in just 11 minutes and makes it possible to hop between both mountains several times a day at mid-mountain level. Whilst it is a fantastic addition for skiers, for designers and engineers the sheer distances involved made the task a mammoth one. The result was a huge single span across the valley of more than 3km without any pylons – making this lift not one for the feint hearted but a seriously impressive piece of engineering.

The highest capacity lift – Solden (Austria) / La Plagne (France)

Cutting queues and delivering as many people to the top as quickly as possible has been a major aim for all resorts in recent years. As a result lift companies have invested heavily in making the lifts as effective as possible – and nowhere is this more evident than in La Plagne and Solden. The former recently installed the Les Colosses 8-seat chair which can shift a massive 4,440 people each hour, the most of a chairlift anywhere. This however is set to be trumped by Solden’s new Giggijochbahn. The 10-seat gondola can shift a whopping 4,500 people every hour - 1,700 more than the old lift, keeping queues to a minimum.
Rudi Wyhlidal

The most expensive ski lift in history – Stubai (Austria)

The Stubai Glacier is on the verge of completing their Eisgratbahn lift, a 3S cable car that has cost them a massive €52 million. It’s benefits, such as slashing ride time and cutting queues are expected to more than make up for this cost however when it opens at the end of October 2016. It has just pipped the likes of the Peak2Peak gondola in Whistler, the Pardatschgratbahn in Ischgl and Mayrhofen’s new Penkenbahn – all of which are huge 3s cable cars.

The fastest chairlift – Brixen im Thale (Skiwelt)

When it was built last season, Brixen's Jochbahn 8-seat express chairlift became the fastest of its kind – capable of travelling at 6m/s (around 22km/hr). If that wasn’t enough, the chair is equipped with seat heating, weather protection bubbles and advanced suspension to make the ride smoother than ever. In addition the lift is covered by solar panels to provide most of the energy needed to run the super-fast lift. No wonder the Jochbahn cost a massive €12 million – much more than most chairs of its kind.