“What the hell…stop!” I yelled at the lift attendant but he wasn’t paying attention. The day was warm and sunny and everyone was in a good mood; yucking it up with the liftie, most likely distracting him. The chair kept moving as the little girl was being dragged underneath. Her friends, giggly at first as the three girls bounded onto the chair, their legs, skis, and poles all in a big tangle, were starting to yell as well.
I squeezed myself as far right as possible trying to make more room for her on the quad chair, but her friends weren’t understanding that they were in her way. She was gonna go under the chair and she might have been alright or she might have been injured. She was being pushed forward and onto the ground by the forward movement of the chair. Ski lifts are unforgiving beasts, diesel engines pulling a cable loaded with the the weight of three or more fully loaded tractor trailers up a steep hill. Bones have little chance.
Soon the loading ramp would drop away, and she would either go under the chair and possibly get kicked with a ski or snowboard, or worse; hang on until she eventually fell off and hurt herself. I am not a big guy, so fortunately she was pretty small. Without even thinking about it I grabbed her under the armpits and popped her onto my lap…the only open spot on the chair. In Vermont, it is illegal to ride with the safety bar up but it wasn’t coming down with her on my lap. I have read of some resorts where the bar comes down automatically. That would have been a bad outcome.
Finally understanding the problem, her two friends scooted to their lefts and I was able to get her off my lap and onto the seat. After settling her in and putting the bar down, she thanked me for “saving her”. The remainder of the five minute or so on the lift involved answering a constant stream of questions from her interlaced with tidbits of her short life’s story.
As we pushed the bar up and got ready to unload the lift, I made sure she wasn’t going to have any issues getting off. She put her ski tips up like a pro, get her poles ready and after thanking me one more time unloaded and skied over to a waiting woman….presumably a mother of one of the girls. I saw her gesture at me and the woman cocked her head quizzically, but needed to focus on gathering up her ducklings. With her hands full and being in the chair in front of us, she would not have seen what happened, though I am sure she heard about it multiple times, maybe over pizza and hot chocolate…the kiddie version of après-ski.
My own child has always been free to wander whatever mountain we are skiing on…she has always been very mature about that. But I know there have been a couple of times where strangers have given her a hand. Ski patrol giving her a snowmobile ride when she got stranded at the bottom of a closed lift, or a kind woman helping her decipher a trail map. But that is part of being on the mountain. We take care of each other’s kiddos.
© Glenn R Keller 2022, All Rights Reserved
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