Haha… I started skiing in the early 70s. Some of the T-Bars would be fraying right before your eyes as they drug you up rollercoaster tracks, or those old chairs that came around the bow wheel at mach force and would slam you in the calves if you didn’t jump just right, then would rock violently when some punter failed the mount and the liftee would slam on the brakes.
That all said, for all their tech and efficiency, the detachable quads that started popping up everywhere in the 90s were responsible for some of my more hair-raising lift experiences.
The Peak Chair on Whistler rarely came to a stop, but when it did, you would slide back about 20-30 meters. Now if this happens just as you’ve crested the last cliff face, mere seconds from offload, you’d be having your balls for lunch as you find your self suddenly propelled back over the cliff face.
Now, Whistlerites have a credo:
Death Before Download.
The lower part of the ski areas would get more rain than snow and the base could quickly erode. You’d literally be hopping over mud and rocks from icy patch of brown snow to the next one and so on, but…Death Before Download.
Now, the lower right side (Creekside) would be way worse and the punters would all download that last chair the arrow is indicating. But not I. Not Never.
This one rain-soaked Dec. 26th, I skied out as usual and it was grueling and wet. As I was kicking off my skis in front of Dustys, done for the day, one of my buds walks up and sez, “Let’s blaze one.”
So back up that chair (yes, the map indicates it is a Gondola, more on that later) we goes. But, those aforementioned downloaders were passing 10 feet from us every 5 seconds…not an empty chair…making sparking it up impossible. So we have to load the next chair and head further up the mountain and what dya know, some punter jumps onto the quad with us, again making our raison d’oobtre impossible. So we hit The Boardroom, a little patch of pitch invisible from all chairs and other eyes, a place very popular with the locals (a gortex bag on a tree always held papers and a lighter) and finally communed with nature. After toking in the view for a bit, we head back down. At the top of that first chair, the one the arrow is pointing to, my friend cuts off and heads to the village side. I, having already skied out Creekside once, decided, for the first and only time in my near decade skiing there, to …gasp…download.
But the lineup of punters waiting to shame themselves woke me up right quick.
A quick right, swoosh down and left and start my 2nd ski out.
Now, go back to the map and look at that arrow again. It marks the exact spot I was when:
I actually remember it stopping as I was exactly below it and I made some off the cuff “Whoa, that was a big one” comment, but just assumed it was another crazy quad stop.
If you again look at the run, you see it swings further right and down quite a way before it once again cuts under the chair. No one was screaming down “help” or anything otherwise to indicate what had happened. At the base, no commotion at all to indicate what had just happened. I hopped in my car and went home, showered and was hanging out with my neighbor while we waited for our day drivers to pick us up for a big holiday night of hacking when the phone rings to tell us what had happened.
Speaking of trusting ski lifts…