A detachable chairlift or high-speed chairlift is a type of aerial lift, which, like a chairlift, consists of numerous chairs that are connected to a constantly moving steel cable that is strung between two terminals over intermediate towers. They are now commonplace at even the smallest of ski areas. Some can even be found at tourist attractions.
An example of a detachable chairlift
The major difference which sets detachable chairlifts apart from standard chairlifts is the speed. Detachable chairlifts are far faster then their fixed-grip bretheren. Because the cable is usually moving faster then most skiers would be able to get on and off the chair, the chairs must be taken off the cable and slowed down substantially to allow patrons to get on and off.
Chairs, which can hold between 4 and 8 people, are connected to the cable by means of spring-loaded grips. These grips allow for the cabin to be detached from the moving cable and slowed down in the terminals, to allow passengers to board and disembark. Chairs are driven through the terminals either by rotating tires, or by a chain system. To be accelerated to an decelerated from line speed, cabins are driven along by progressivly faster (or slower) rotating tires until they reach terminal or line speed. Some detachable chairlifts have bubble chairs, which have an additional plastic covering to protect skiers in bad weather.