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Why I love Double Chairlifts

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Why I like double chairlifts

Dan jumps cannon.jpg

Over Christmas break I got to ski Mount Abrams in Maine, and boy am I glad I did.  From the moment I pulled up into the parking lot I knew I was home, why?  Because there were no parking lot attendants! 


I simply pulled up moved a cone and parked my car.  Old school, no one yelled, no one waved and n tied to tell me to move the car.  The time was around 11:30, the place was buzzing and the guy in the truck next to me actually apologized for not making me get out and move the cone, he said, “I should have yanked that thing out of your way, why waste the space!”  “Right on mate”, I stated,
“There is always room for one more!”


As I looked towards the base lodge and beyond to the slopes, I was amazed, the place was hopping, the sun was out and there was a vive I hadn’t felt in a while.  The line on the main chair lift stretched out in what looked to be a 20 minute wait, the music was pumping from the base lodge, the T-bar line was a single file with no coral and the deck on the lodge was full of parents, kids, and on lookers. 


Popping up to the “admin” I found the marketing director staring out the window with a huge smile on his face.  “Perfect day”  he said,  “just like we like’em up here in Maine!”  He ran off to get my ticket which he tore from a roll of blue and white tickets, the type that you peel and stick, wrote the date on it and handed to me.  “Wow, it’s that simple I said, why doesn’t every one adopt this system?” I said, he laughed and just said, “why complicate it, suppose to be fun right?” 


And I couldn’t agree more.  I sat on the deck for a bit just to soak it all in, there was a high school single pole slalom race happening and the kids were having a blast, the terrain park had two jumps in it, and the was a line of riders waiting to blast off of it. And the deck had so much life, it was a people watching dream come true.


Standing in lift line I realized that I could actually do something I hadn’t done in years, I could yell “SINGLE”, and that felt good, so I did it again, “SINGLE” and this time I waved my pole for effect.  The line which I thought was 20 minutes was closer to 30 but the time flew by as my new chair mate made his way up and slid in next to me.  We started chatting about this and that and before I knew we were swinging on the double chair laughing and telling stories all the way to the top.


I met some amazing people that day, an iron worker from the coast, a contractor working on the “freedom towers” in New York, a instructor named Ed who had retire to teach skiing and was cruising around with his grand kids.  I met a family from Rhode Island and their four kids, the mother said I looked like I might know a thing or two about the mountain so she stopped to talk to me about trail selection.  In the terrain park I rode with a couple of snowboarding cousins who were working on their spins.  At the start of the High School Race I saw friends from competing high schools gather and cheer which reminded me of my single pole slalom race days in Massachusetts .


I stood in that double chairlift line and each time with anticipation yelled “Single” and waved my pole excited about the stories and tales I would hear on the ride up.  And all the time I heard the marketing guy’s voice saying “Why complicate it, its suppose to be fun, right?”


Find a double chair lift this weekend and dare to yell single and if your at one of those fancy resorts with ticket scanners reaching for your privates as they scan your ticket take the time to look them in the eye and say “hey, having any fun?”


Skiing and snowboarding is simple, look at the faces on the kids at the Xgames in the crowd.  They understand the magic is in the air.  Go find some this weekend and report in!


I’ll be riding the new double at Cannon mountain that leads to the terrain with no snowmaking and no grooming, if your around let’s take a run! 

post #2 of 29

Nice TR Dan!

Though, I'm not sure if this is a TripReport  or a Get Together, but I'll take you up on the invitation to ski Cannon Mountain with you some day.


As always, you make me smile.

post #3 of 29

What's Up Dan?  Sitting here in Steamboat this AM with your face on my TV!  Eagan entertainment at 4:30 am (still on EST)  Cheers!  

post #4 of 29

If you think a double is twice as good as a quad (which is 50% better than a 6-pack (not that kind)) then is a single chair is twice as good as the double?...or are those numbers backwards? nonono2.gif


I hear what you are saying, the simplicity that skiing "Mom & Pop" feeder areas has their beauty and are fun to ski. I am proud to say that I first started skiing at an ear like that in the Poconos and that these areas are indeed the heart and soul of the sport. 

post #5 of 29



Isn't it great to meet new people, hear their stories, and share the joy of the day on snow.


Thanks for sharing your story of that day... perhaps we can share a flying bench again sometime!

post #6 of 29

Couldn't you find a parking spot without moving a cone? Someone probably puts those cones out there to show you where you shouldn't park. If you need to park closer than the rest of us, document your need and use the handicap parking.


I'm glad you enjoyed skiing a small hill and mingling with us common folk.

post #7 of 29

As an older skier I feel I have a license to gabsmile.gif on chairlift rides, except when I'm frustrated by those smart enough to shut me up by being wired-in to their earbud-music systems. Last night I was skiing by myself and had a bunch of great conversations.  I was skiing near Wash DC and rode with a bunch of people with foreign accents.  The diplomats and  large international population in the area seem to really go for skiing/riding.  I talked with a Spaniard, then an Armenian, then some midshipmen from Naval Academy.  Lots of cool folks. 

Two of the snuggest little double chairs I've been on lately were the main lift at Black Mtn, NH and the summit chair at Solitude, UT.  Both fun rides serving great, interesting terrain.

post #8 of 29

I skiied Solitude solo today and as usual it was so uncrowded I didn't need to try and fill chairs.  A few people shuffled onto the chair with me most times though, and I met some very interesting blokes!   Some of the chairs were double, some triple, some quad, but I never rode with more than 1 person. It was nice.

post #9 of 29


Originally Posted by Dan Egan View Post

Why I like double chairlifts

Dan jumps cannon.jpg


Kneissl Rock Stars?  Nice!  icon14.gif

post #10 of 29

A good double chair up the rocky edge of Liberty Bowl would be a great addition at Big Sky - anything more and it would generate too much traffic - anything less and it would be a long lonely ride.

post #11 of 29

Nothing worse than sharing a ride on the lift with a plugged in guy who doesn't want to BS. To each his own I guess and we're all there to enjoy. I went up the lift last week out at Vail with a boarder from Liverpool, England that was professional roadie , who was running the lights for the Lady Gaga tour. Had recently completed the Brittney Spears tour. 


Love to hear what everybody is up to going up the lift.

post #12 of 29

Dan, as a lover of double chairlifts, would you please, pretty please make Snowbird a compelling offer and take the Little Cloud and Gad2 chairs off their hands?  Those fiberglass benches have to be the least ergonomic seating on the planet!


As a skier who grew up riding with tens of thousands of other Californians on the weekends at Squaw & Alpine, I'll *never* regret the advent of detachable, high-speed, high-capacity chairs: these chairs allowed Squaw to institute their famous "no wait" guarantee (if you stood over 15 min in line, you got your $$ back!), and *vastly* increased the number of laps my young legs could pack in a day.


By the same token, I'm with you 100% regarding the death of conviviality on the slopes.

What I've always loved most about skiing, aside from the adrenaline and natural grandeur, was meeting other members of what I felt was "my tribe": people who dug the outdoors, and who had often traveled the globe in search of the that ultimate mountain high.


Some things in the sport have changed for the better (e.g. more helmets, better skis), but it seems that there's been a changing of the guard, and most of the young rippers on the mountain are plugged in 24/7, with little to no interest in interacting with other humans on the chairs.

It's been over a decade since this trend became pronounced enough that I started making mental notes on it, and I've skied coast-to-coast from the Poconos to Mammoth, and I'm afraid to say that regardless the size of the lift chair, it is my experience that the majority of riders under the age of 25 will be plugged in on the chairs, and if addressed, will grunt, look away, and simply leave the earbuds in.


It's a darn shame. I guess my tribe is slowly dying out.

Edited by Veloscente - 2/5/11 at 4:00pm
post #13 of 29

Anyone who whines about the comfort of a chairlift seat is no member of my tribe. I wear headphones so I can pretend I don't hear you.

post #14 of 29


Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post Anyone who whines about the comfort of a chairlift seat is no member of my tribe. I wear headphones so I can pretend I don't hear you.

See, this really is a social pandemic: the iPod virus has even begun to get its hooks into our grumpy tribal elders!


Funny, I thought my tongue-in-cheek dig at the Bird's sole weakness, its dual, ergonomic Achilles' heels so to speak, was dripping with enough irony that it couldn't be missed.

No matter, in the interest of tribal unity, I'd like to extend an olive branch: some of my best friends are curmudgeons, and they tell me I'm not a whiner, just incorrigibly idealistic.


Let me know next time you head out to Snowbird, and we can share a couple chatty, comfy rides up Little Cloud.

post #15 of 29


post #16 of 29

Mt. Abrams.  Wow! I learned to ski there almost 30 years ago.  I used to love that place.   I always liked it better than Sunday River.   Nice runs and laid back, friendly people. 

post #17 of 29

I rode Gad 2 most of yesterday, and Little Cloud once (once was enough, horrible windscour up there) and didn't notice they were uncomfortable.  Mind you we were gabbing away 19 to the dozen so not really thinking about the chair.  I've never had bad skiing off Gad 2.  I guess the trick with convivial chair lift rides is, don't ride with kiddies who have their Pants On The Ground.

post #18 of 29

First off why the problem with parking lot attendants? At my hill (sounds alot like this one with less of a wait) we try to pack the parking lot as close as possible, and nothing pisses me off like people parking five feet apart so they have enough room to open the doors on their car and the car next to them and still have space to walk in between. Then the parking lots are full by 10am and people have to park along the road or just turn around and go home. Anyway I must agree I love riding double chairs and gabbing. Met a fellow last week who was working on wind turbine projects near Sterling, Colorado and Kimball, Nebraska. The plan is to install 600 new generators there, and start a new project near Laramie, Wyoming. Also chatted with a couple people on the Challenger lift on mary jane this weekend and three weeks ago. One two weeks ago let us know that berthoud pass was closed and that a snowboarder had been killed in a slide. One on saturday discussed the new salomon shogun skis with me and how a traditional camber ski turns vs a rockered ski, and how amazing the powder was that day. Its always great to socialize on the lift.

post #19 of 29


Originally Posted by ant View Post
I rode Gad 2 most of yesterday, and Little Cloud once (once was enough, horrible windscour up there) and didn't notice they were uncomfortable.  Mind you we were gabbing away 19 to the dozen so not really thinking about the chair.  I've never had bad skiing off Gad 2.  I guess the trick with convivial chair lift rides is, don't ride with kiddies who have their Pants On The Ground.

Usually, skiing for me is like being in bed with a beautiful woman:

You're not going to be fixating on the quality of the furniture when you're totally immersed in the beauty of the ride.

This is what made these two chairs at the Bird, one of the greatest beauties I've ever had the pleasure of riding, a sort of rude awakening for me.


So here is where I insert the obligatory disclaimer on the subjectivity of ergonomics and contextualize:

Here's the apparatus gathering my subjective data:

6'1", 160lbs, 35" inseam. Long and lean, w/ a cyclist's metabolism that runs hot and doesn't tolerate a lot of bulky insulative layers.

My findings on Gad2 & Little Cloud ergonomics:

The seat surface is crazy short, front-to-back, and only supported about 2/3 of my upper leg. This combined with those rigid, square-edged, plastic slats made for some serious "bite" in the back of the legs, and in spring-weight gear, it became evident that the contours of the chair had absolutely zero to do with those of human anatomy. At the end of our trip, I asked our group of 5 guys what they thought of the lifts at the Bird, and 2 of the taller, leaner guys admitted that they dreaded riding those chairs as well.


To bring us back on topic to the pros & cons of double chairs, yes I did enjoy the one-on-one time with really good friends doing laps of Silver Cloud, but when you're sitting in a chair that causes acute physical discomfort, the slow-motion quality of arcane double chairs is decidedly less endearing, especially when just 20 yards off the top of Little Cloud is the drop to Mineral and a fast, modern, padded, ergonomically-correct chair that will hold your entire crew.


For the record, I don't mind slow, creaky, old chairs when I drive to do some laid-back family skiing with my kids, but when I fly into a place like Snowbird on a strategic strike, I'm on a mission and will avoid slow chairs unless forced to ride them by some inexorable force (Silver Cloud had the best, most consistent visibility on my last trip there, so that's where we rode).


Maybe there is someone on Epic with intimate knowledge of Snowbird's future infrastructure improvement plans, but I couldn't help but wonder if the Bird really got the best bang-for-their buck drilling a 1.4-million dollar tunnel through from Peruvian to Mineral when they could have spent that money upgrading the capacity, speed & comfort of Little Cloud & Gad2.


Don't get me wrong: If these were the only  way up the mountain at Snowbird, I'd still pay the price of admission to ski there, and ride them first to last chair.

But since the Bird seems to have gotten just about everything else right (especially after the remodel, the Cliff Lodge is sheer, logistical brilliance), I'm going to hold out hope that new quads are right up at the top of their shopping list.

post #20 of 29

I had never thought about this before, until I read this post. You're right - a double chairlift as an amazing ability to spark great conversations with great people that I don't find anywhere else on the mountain. As someone who often skis alone, it forces you to ride up with someone else who won't spend the entire time chatting with his buddy. Each time I took the T-bar and chair 6 at Breck this last Sunday, I met someone and had some great conversations. While I certainly missed the speed in which I could hit another lap, I did find solace in enjoying the company of someone who I would have never met otherwise - and someone who shares the same passion for skiing that I have. Though, it being Superbowl Sunday may have increased the odds of riding up with the dying breed of a true skier (who seem to be often pushed into the backcountry by the hordes of vacationers we get out here). I rarely ski Breck due to the crowds, but getting to meet great people has made me reconsider my aversion to that resort (at least on weekdays... hah).

post #21 of 29

After spending much of my youth looking to put myself into as hairball of positions as possible I found myself this weekend watching my 7 year old ski away and my 37 year old (wife that is) crash in slow motion into the trees and I wondered just what has become of my skiing career.  I was in the woods helping my wife recover from her mishap only to hear my daughter screaming at the top of her lungs down the way because she thought she lost us.  


Boy those mid-week powder days 20 years ago on the Pali lift at A Basin with nobody around sure are a distant memory.  The good thing is that at least I packed my bags and did that when I was young and got to experience being a total bum.  Did it surfing too.  And it makes days like this past Sunday actually more enjoyable - you know - passing the stoke on as best I can.


While I totally get what you are saying I have to admit my reality today is a high speed quad or a gondola - just keep it moving people - my time is a precious as yours and we all just need to get some turns in.


BTW, nice little tuck air in the photo - no substitution for clean skiing with good lines. 




post #22 of 29

Nice post Dan,


I'd put up the Snow Ghost double at Schweitzer as another example of what skiing is about.  There are a few differences from what you described, however.  I have to yell single only a few times a year as during the week (and even on a non-powder Sunday) it's ski on.  While there may not always be someone to ride with, the lifites and I all know each other by face (if not name).  Also, it's a place I can often hook up with a ski buddy without needing to make a call. 


Another aspect of this chair is that it accesses what I consider the best terrain on the mountain.  Many folks avoid this chair because of the 13 minute ride (often 15 or even 17 minutes when there's problems) - maybe the more difficult terrain is also a factor - but the 1900 vertical (800-1,000 ft of steeps), well preserved snow, and the steeper bowls and chutes it accesses make it my regular ride.


I think you'd find Snow Ghost to your liking.  Here's a photo of a partial section from the Outback (North) Bowl




Off to the mountain to ride Snow Ghost now.  Si




post #23 of 29
Thread Starter 

I'll be there next week!~

post #24 of 29

I think the responses to this post convince me that even the most beautiful thoughts posted on this site can lead to some really unpleasant ones. My take from Dan's post is that the great things you used to get from skiing are still there if you go to the right place, where no one has to park in the remote lot with the school bus shuttle, and no one is screaming because they can't see their parents.


I loved your post Dan! Thanks.


post #25 of 29

I love chair lift rides too. it is great telling stories...and sometimes lies. 

post #26 of 29
Thread Starter 

Rode doubles all day today at the "bird"  The tram was packed and for a sunny Feb day the chairs were the call.  Great Chalk on the way down, Great Talk on the way up!

post #27 of 29
Originally Posted by Dan Egan View Post

Rode doubles all day today at the "bird"  The tram was packed and for a sunny Feb day the chairs were the call.  Great Chalk on the way down, Great Talk on the way up!


post #28 of 29

December 31, 2010 was the last time I rode lifts. 6 runs, fixed grip quad serving green and blue terrain, about 300 vertical feet.


One of my first rides was with a first year lift attendant that was learning to snowboard. His funniest comment "Sir why doesn't your board have bindings on it ?" I explained step-in bindings, "Some old junk that never caught on." 


Next ride with a woman who sounded Italian and her young son.  We didn't talk much.


I rode once with a patroller from nearby Liberty and his wife and son. They were trying to ski every run and had already descended the diamonds and the long blue runs from the top.


I think I rode by myself twice and once with a couple of 20 something guys.


I kept seeing the snowboarder/liftie, we were taking different runs but at the same pace. I thought we would ride up together again when I skated by him at the loading gate, but he had stopped to chat up a lady liftie. I saw him again when he was strapping in at the top of my last run. He passed me, then fell. I waved when I passed him. The steepest and narrowest part of this green run is right before it flattens and I checked my speed there. He flew by. I fell on the flat run out and I fell hard.


When I got to the bottom, he was there, grinning. I didn't pay him any mind, slid past him and showed my broken arm to a person in a "Snow Safety Team" jacket. A patroller showed up and walked with me to where they treat the injured. 


The liftie showed up there shortly after to see if I was going to be alright. That was kinda nice. :)

post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 

One of my favorite liftie stories was a friend of mine that before she learned how to ski she took a job as a liftie to see what people wore and to see the sport.  The first day on the job she was at the beginner lift and the first person that came up to the lift she welcomed, told the skier to slide out to the loading zone and then my friend got on the lift with the skier and rode to the top!  Amazing.


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