A lesson in etiquette.
The snow’s coming down hard—over a foot of fresh overnight. First tracks at Bridger are gonna be epic. An 8:15 arrival should leave plenty of time to get a parking spot, trudge up the hill, and catch one of the first few chairs on Virginia City. As dawn breaks, all is going according to plan, except... WTF is this? A line of abandoned skis starting at the chairlift and running all the way to the lodge.
In this town, there seems to be a certain type of skier who thinks he has outsmarted the rest of us. You know the guy—he drops his skis at the chairlift, then squirms away to the lodge or his car, to cower away from the cold, thinking he has officially reserved a spot in line.
Do you show up early at the Elm with a cardboard dummy, then go get a beer across the street? Why do you think these universal rules of society suddenly change on snow?
Well, we’re here to remind folks that ’round these parts, the phrase, “privilege is earned, not given” still rings true. What convoluted logic leads you to think that dumping your skis and slinking away (to grab the closest table to the fireplace in the lodge) earns you a prime spot in the lift line? As you clutch your soy cinnamon macchiato and lean back in your chair, scrolling through Instagram in an entitled, self-indulgent stupor, the real skiers are outside chugging sunrise coffee—black, spiked with their favorite hooch—while the tips of their noses turn white. They’re participating in a longstanding skier’s ritual: standing and waiting, in gleeful anticipation, for the chairs to start spinning. They’re sharing the moment and honoring the traditions that make Bridger such a special place. They’re earning their early start and the fresh tracks that come with it, as part of a community of like-minded powder hounds willing to pay the price to get the goods. You, on the other hand, are sucking the soul out of the local ski culture.
During the lunchtime rush at the Co-op, do you drop your credit card at the register, go shopping, then expect to sidle right up past everyone else when it’s time to check out? Do you show up early at the Elm with a cardboard dummy, then go get a beer across the street? Why do you think these universal rules of society suddenly change on snow? It’s called a lift line for a reason: you wait in it, for your turn. If you want to be pampered like a princess, head on up to Big Sky—their chairs have seat warmers and protective bubbles. They might even let you skip the line if you shell out enough cash—which would be right up your alley, since you detest standing in the cold, waiting with everyone else.
From here on out, leave equipment behind at your own risk.
We would be remiss to ignore the fact that a few salty old-timers started this practice, when their youthful resistance to the cold gave way to the comforts of a warm chair and hearty breakfast in the lodge. But that was well before the Nuevo Bozeman hordes descended and all powder was destroyed by 10am. Times change, folks—there are other people around now, and they’re mimicking your behavior. Your amnesty card has become a liability and is thus no longer valid. It’s time to start earning first chair again, like everyone else.
So, from here on out, leave equipment behind at your own risk. You might just find your brand-new, twin-tipped, reverse-rockered, high-modulus skis missing, buried in a snow pile somewhere—or, if we’re feeling frisky, sliced in half by a rusty Sawzall. We wish lashings were still an appropriate punishment for these kinds of self-serving infractions, but for now, a public shaming in the metaphorical stocks will have to do. To the pillory!