The chairlift ride is one of the most neglected aspects of skiing. Of course, it provides the means for skiers to continuously bomb down the mountain, but it’s the slow ascent which delivers value. It’s the experience of being fifty feet in the air–on larger mountains–gazing around at the surrounding scenery, being stung by the cold wind, and chatting with one’s company.
For the most part, skiing or snowboarding is an individual sport. Nevertheless, the chairlift pulls people together, catalyzing a bonding experience. Other than a car, people are not typically forced in close proximity together. With the chairlift, one is strapped into that position, until reaching the top, so egos are dropped, conversation is initiated, and listening is encouraged.
My dad and I will be carving down Killington mountain in Vermont next week. The time I spend with him up there is usually one of my most enjoyable experiences of the year. We ski, then we hum up the mountain, reflecting on the past, present, and what’s to come. I relish being outside, but it’s satisfying to see my Dad do these activities with me as well.
In his youth, my dad was an avid skier and surfer. He’s the one who got me involved in both sports. Well, after a knee-replacement, some weight-gain, years of manual labor, and raising two kids, he doesn’t have as much time or stamina to engage in these activities. Though, it’s still fulfilling when he does squeeze in the opportunity.
The chairlift gradually climbs and sometimes, silence inhabits the ride. The trails are groomed, the weather is crisp, and one’s company is right. There’s nothing really else to be said.