The grade of this style of rope tow is limited by passenger grip strength and the fact that pulleys cannot be used. A development of the simple rope tow was the handle tow (or pony lift), where plastic or metal handles are permanently attached to the rope. These handles are easier to grip than a rope, making the ski lift easier to ride.
A surface lift is a means of cable transport that transports skiers and snowboarders, in which riders remain on the ground as they are pulled uphill. Once prevalent, they have gradually been overtaken in popularity by higher-capacity aerial lifts like chairlifts and the gondola lift.