Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Aerial Ski Tramways

As it turns out, I love skiing. I once flirted with snowboarding, but only because when I was 16 I thought boy snowboarders looked cooler than boy skiers. The fling with snowboarding ended very quickly. Being frustrated, cold, and on my ass the entire day was not my idea of a good time. Skiing, however, is the exact opposite of that. I was happy, warm, and on my feet. I was also wrong about boy skiers. They are just as cool as the snowboarders, and just as cute.

Eric and I rang in the new year up near Lake Isabella at "the lake house." We went with a group of friends to play in the snow at Alta Sierra, and to drink massive amounts of champagne. We had been cross country skiing before, but never downhill skiing. This time we went downhill skiing, and had a blast!

One aspect of skiing, is finding a way to the top of a mountain. This is really the only way to achieve true downhill skiing. If you were to ski uphill you would be cross country skiing, or possibly ski touring. These are all completely different animals, and this particular weekend I was tackling the art of downhill skiing. To get up hill, most people use a ski chair lift. Ski chair lifts are one aspect of skiing that stood out to me about the last trip. I almost forgot how much I hated the lift.

Image Credit: Chris Pimlott -- cc-by-sa-2.5 license
Short Cut chair lift at The Canyons, Park City, Utah

I dread the ride every time, and I always think I'm going to end up on my butt at the end of it. This time however, was different. I just stood up and glided off the lift. Amazing. How did it work? How was it that I didn't fall? The answer? I was on skis, not a snowboard.

The lift can be brutal to new snowboarders, and new skiers. Not only did one of our friends need the lift stopped for him after he fell getting off it the first time, but he also ended up taking out a cake that happened to be sitting near the lift area. We still don't know what a cake was doing on the slopes, but our friend managed to ruin it with his skis. Lifts are a hell of an invention, and downhill skiing wouldn't be the same without them.

In 1936 Sun Valley Idaho opened a ski resort, equipped with the very first chair lift. The new lift was located on Proctor Mountain, and parts of it are still in use today in Boyne Mountain, Michigan. Ski lifts were originally patent with the name "Aerial Ski Tramway" and were created by Sun Valley's creator, W. Averell Harriman. He was a former New York Governor, and was also loaded. His design was inspired by banana loading equipment used for fruit ships, and that is exactly what I feel like when I'm in one. A piece of cargo being shipped.

Lifts are scary. If you're not careful, you could end up like a piece of cargo fruit. Stripped like a fallen banana, and found hanging by your underoos. Skiing is super fun, but ski lifts still make me nervous. My throat always drops into my tummy right before I have to get off, but somehow I manage to pull myself together and get off of it in one piece. Lifts are a necessity to downhill skiing, so I guess I just need more practice on them. Hopefully no more cakes will be sacrificed.


Jackie said...

I hear ya... my first time on a ski lift I was so terrified I was going to fall on my butt. I've definitely gotten knocked over a few times, but at least this never happened to me. ;)

Eric said...

Remind me to get some suspenders.... EEK