Chairlift Antics

How to spice up your next chairlift ride.

The chairlift: a place where relationships are forged or forgotten. A relaxing lull in the whirlwind of a powder day, a tense experience with a stranger, or a reflective interlude: a place to sit back, take in the view, and be thankful that you ended up in this place for the day or for a lifetime.

With the right company, the chairlift can be a fun and pleasant ride, with inside jokes and deep conversations. Other times, it's an uncomfortable experience full of friction and awkward silences. While we should not mock an attempt, however banal, at friendly connection with a stranger, there are times when the words don’t find themselves. When this happens, use these techniques.

Lie: You are an oil baron from Dubai. Alternately, you were born into a homeless family in Copenhagen before climbing the hard-fought ladder to success. Pick a good lie. If the chairlift loses power, you will need a lot of material to work with.

The Bar: Upon liftoff, ask permission to put the bar down. Promptly attempt to unbuckle your ski boots only to find that the bar is restricting your attempt. Ask to put the bar back up, fix your issue and put the bar down. Repeat until somebody flips out or you get to the top.

Overlap: Sit close—much closer then necessary, and fail to recognize the mistake for the entire ride. Wiggle and dig deep into every pocket for lost items and added discomfort.

Chance Encounter: You know the person next to you from somewhere and you will spend the entire ride figuring out where that is. Don’t stop until they are also convinced or leave them assured that it will come to you. Guess their name: if you get it right, they have to believe that you know them.

Helping Hand: Ask them to hold onto something for you, like a helmet or poles, while you work out a personal issue such as adding or removing a layer. Continue handing them items such as gloves, jacket, and backpack for as long as you dare.

Best Run: “Hully Gully was going off this morning!” you might proclaim while riding up Sunnyside, pointing at the pristine ditch. Proceed to ask directions to somewhere and enthusiastically turn the wrong direction at the top while waving a grateful goodbye.

Gear Guy: Talk about gear and only gear right from the start: come out swinging and don’t stop. “Parabolics are taking over the sport.” Mention “in the bumps” whenever possible.

Embellish: The snow on the Ridge this morning was overhead. Yesterday was the best, and tomorrow will be better. If they weren’t there, it was surely the best day of the year.

Gravity: Drop a glove or goggles. Watch it fall silently and look back nervously the rest of the way to the top—never speak a word, even when prompted.

Bad History: “Jim Bridger still holds the record for most Ridge hikes in one day.”  

Gesticulate: Talk with your hands more then necessary. Point your fingers high in the sky and rub them together to get rid of imaginary crumbs.

Confession: Come clean about a fictional crime that you recently committed. Mention it in casual conversation or mumble it out of the blue. Nothing that will make them turn you in—just something to give pause.

The Foreigner: Accents: Use them often. They need not be good; ideally, they aren't.

The Collapse: After a sincere and inspiring chairlift conversation with a complete stranger with whom you just connected on a deeper level, fall while getting off the chairlift and throw a tantrum. As they ski away, point a ski pole at them to direct the blame.