Ever wondered what it's like to work as a ski lift operator? Here's a peek into their world—and how you can make it a little better for everyone.
Being a "lifty" makes collecting trash look cushy. They wake up at the crack of dawn to shovel extremely large amounts of snow. They tolerate the harshest winter weather and assist hoards of people navigate a massive bottleneck of traffic. Oh yeah, and they keep the lifts running smoothly. Longtime lift operator and founder of Bahko Eyewear, Doug Reynolds, notes that, "Mt. Bachelor is a unique resort because they operate on the side of an isolated and exposed volcano."
It's not just the mountain itself that is exposed. Every single lift at Mt. Bachelor goes above the tree line, which is right around 7,500 feet. Reynolds explains, "The last 1,500' of equipment is constantly getting beat by the weather and creating challenges for operations. Mt. Bachelor implements automated features that click the lift off when the cable gets super icy and is too dangerous to run." Getting it back up safely is the lifty's goal, so don't create more problems by complaining. If it's sunny and gorgeous and you are antsy to ride, don't torture yourself waiting for a lift to open just to get freshies. Stand there and be happy that your patience will pay off with powder.
Recognize that your life choices affect everyone around you. Moods are contagious, so have some self-awareness in line. If there is a jerk in front of you, just ignore them. Consider it your tiny contribution to a better world.
Load as you were instructed and don't be selfish. The dispatching lifty takes the heat for you ignoring them. No one cares if you want to have a romantic ride up with your bae or that you're scared of close contact with other humans. They only care that you left those other two seats empty, increasing the wait time to shred the gnar. As you maneuver through the turnstyle, slow down; they don't open like the doors at Wal-Mart. Don't attempt the splits or try to cartwheel your board through over your head. If you do need assistance, follow the lifty's lead, they hold the power to liberate you from your awkward circumstance with their magic wand.
When it's finally your turn to load the lift, pay attention. Stop showing off to your friends, secure your gear and put your phone away—you had plenty of time to Snapchat in line. Above all, don't be a spoiled local. Yes, we know that you have lived here for years specifically for 360-degree access to quality snow. All the more reason to be grateful to those who bust their tails to make your experience better.
A lifty may be many things, but to be clear they are not:
1) The HR Dept. Don't stop them on their coffee break to complain about the lifts being down, or how their employer sucks. Your opinions are not their concern, they are just trying to happily keep the chairs moving and get some turns in.
2) Bouncers. Lift lines are not boxing rings. Don't be a dick.
3) Daycare attendants. Curb your kid's entitlement issues. Yeah, they may crush, but that doesn't give them the right to be disrespectful. To anyone.