Do you want to ride the chair together?
Having fun out there? How many runs have you gotten in? Have you been to the backside yet?
Do you live in town? What do you do?
And, finally, the farewell of, “Have fun!”
That’s how the majority of my encounters go on a ski lift, and I am sure most skiers and snowboarders can relate.
But every once in awhile, there are some special moments had on a lift with complete strangers. There are unique stories that can brighten your day, the chance to learn something new or to even make a new friend.
Then, you also have the rare oddities. For instance, last season I was blown away by the beatboxing skills by one snowboarder and the rapping skills of his friend. I wish I had gotten their names and could have shared their talent with others.
So, welcome to my first “Livi on the Lift” column, where I will highlight some of my favorite experiences on chair lifts at Purgatory Resort, Wolf Creek Ski Area and, if I am lucky, beyond this season.
As I highlighted in my Purgatory opening day column, it has already been a fantastic start to the season here in Southwest Colorado, even with that pesky two-week dry spell.
Wolf Creek became the first ski area in Colorado to surpass 100 inches of snow and boasts a midway depth of 64 inches after six more inches fell Thursday night into Friday morning.
Purgatory opened Chair 3 on Friday to provide the first taste of “backside” skiing this season in Durango. Three inches of new snow graced those slopes to those who were able to make their first turns down Zinfandel on Friday morning on a 23-inch base.
I’ve toyed with the idea of the “Livi on the Lift” column for a few years. I was afraid this year it might not happen because of COVID-19 social distancing guidelines and the recommendation for members of separate households to ride different chairs.
Purgatory has done an excellent job accommodating that. The lift lines might be a tad longer than we are used to, but it’s worth it to keep the mountain open and the visitors safe.
Working nights, I am able to get out a bunch on weekdays to ride as a single. And on the six-pack main lift at Purgatory, I’ve been able to enjoy some chair rides with others this year while keeping a distance.
This week, I met a Durango local named Dave. I was pleased to find out he was an avid reader of The Durango Herald, and we quickly delved into a conversation about the Durango High School football team.
In the 10 years I’ve been a pass holder at Purgatory, this was the first time anyone has talked to me about local high school sports on a chair lift. Winning a state championship will do that, but it was a treat to share the joy that team has brought the town with someone new when I never expected it.
We said our farewells and I pushed over to “Styx” for my first Purgatory black turns of the season. After a good conversation and a smile on my face, the push to the top of the run was a little easier.
With this column, I hope to share some of my enthusiasm for the 2020-21 ski and snowboard season. So let’s catch a chair together and have a few special moments. What I learn or enjoy most, I will hope to spread with you all. And, certainly some of the more bizarre moments will appear in these column inches, too.
I’ll see you on the mountain soon. Until then, have a good run.
John Livingston is the Regional Sports Editor of The Durango Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi.