WILL COLFORD, SnowSeekers Inc.
Nearing the top of the hill, on the second last lift before the top is bittersweet. The sun crests the clouds and two things become immediately apart. The conditions are ideal, but the chair to access them isn’t open.
Bombs are going off and every so often a patroller skis a line and gets back on the lift, only heightening the tension and angst. Every time the chair begins to turn, you think it’s time. Then you see a rope drop and you can’t put your board on fast enough, only to find out it’s still not time.
“Sorry folks, it’ll be half an hour at least,” says the liftie. Even still, the line is beginning to build.
After a few more runs, the line is full and there’s no more risking it. It’s time to line up and wait. The mood is almost somber. It has gravity. It’s maybe like watching a meteorite about to land on earth and change your way of life forever, but nobody knows where or when or how, all they can do is wait.
The ski patrollers again ski down and skip to the front of the line. Everyone hears the ding ding of the chair lift start cycle.
“Is it just for the patrol?” someone asks. The patrollers don’t make eye contact with anyone in line, and just push strait to the chair. The machine lurches forward about to pick them up. Everyone is waiting for some kind of update before the patrol leaves. The line is silent. The patrol turns back and says, “Strap up everyone, it’s time.”
The meteor lands and everyone screams and rushes and panics, then it gets truly crazy. By the time I make my way to the front, the first chairs have unloaded at the top and people are imprinting tracks in the untouched bowls and chutes. A skier pokes out at the top of air Jordan – a triple drop section that combines for about 120 feet. Everyone in line goes nuts. Poles are banged together, boards a slapped on the graound, cheers, yells, and “DO IT!” fill the air.
He points his pole and lets go. He lands the first drop and takes off the second. Landing in the larger patch a slab breaks off, hurtling towards a 60 footer. He pops out with just enough time to set himself, then lets go again off the 60 foot face.
Sticks the landing and everyone’s world has been changed forever. My chair scoops me up and I turn my gaze to scan for the perfect line. They’re all perfect. Soon it will be mine turn. I can’t wait.
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