Life on the Mountain
Cheers to the Chairlift
And all life's problems solved there
I'm pretty sure that all life’s answers can be found on the chairlift.
Maybe there's something in the mountain air. Maybe it's the view. Perhaps the solitude, the silence or the lifted disconnection from solid ground. Even if it is just for a brief 11 minutes.
I have cried on chairlifts. Strangers have corrected me on what I thought was the capital city of Turkey. I have been inspired and perplexed on chairlifts. I have made decisions, big ones, on chairlifts. People have fallen in love on chairlifts or even found reasons to break up. Friendships are made. Goals are set. Problems are solved. Apologies are given. Questions are asked.
Where else in our lives can we experience such a vast array of emotions, interactions and contemplations? Certainly not in our cars where cell phones are ringing, music is playing and horns are honking. Most of us are too tired to relish in the few moments before sleep to reflect on life when our head hits the pillow. Yoga provides respite for some but many of us are too worried about holding our balance to think about our lives. Sometimes, over morning coffee the most important conversations happen, but most of us don’t have strangers chiming in at our kitchen counter with an alternative view.
Chairlifts, all of ‘em, from the speedy ride on Challenger to the top of Baldy, to the knee-knocking throwback of Flying Squirrel that is almost never open, to the perfect rest for burning quads on the May Day triple, to the extra 15 minutes that the Greyhawk Chair is open at the end of the day, provide a respite for us skiers—a little calm in the storm of our days.
I remember my mom teaching a four year-old me the best way to keep my fingers warm on Dollar Lift, when it was a double. I remember when Quarter Dollar Lift was a double with the big, fat pole in the middle. I remember the convenience that the Exhibition Chair provided when I just didn’t want to go to the bottom or the top of the mountain. (Although, I admit I ski Exhibition more now that the chair is gone.) I remember the exact caves where the jabberwockies and superheroes lurked under the River Run Chairlift. I remember learning where the absolute worst places to drop my glove from the chair are. I remember my first kiss on a chairlift. I remember chats with my brother and problem solving with my boss.
Seemingly providing just a “ride to the top,” these chairlift memories have somehow become just as important as the actual skiing. So cheers to the chairlift and all life’s answers found there.