This We Like, 41

Double chairlifts

Double chairlifts     Photo: Dimitri N./Flickr

In terms of intimacy, a high-speed quad chair is more Vegas buffet than candlelit table for two. Trams? Aerial cattle cars with hoppy beer farts. Although they’re much maligned and slated for extinction by profit- and vert-maximizing ski execs across the country, the double chair is skiing’s perfect lift. Part of this has to do with the social dynamic the double chair demands. On a quad it’s easy to pull up your hood, hunch into your little corner, pretend not to hear. On a double, going silent isn’t just awkward, it’s an effrontery to the social contract, a slap in the face to a fellow skier. Besides, you’re missing out. I’ve argued foreign policy with snowboarders, talked about circling ravens with an ornithologist who rode shotgun, and discovered countless powder stashes thanks to locals all too willing to give them up to somebody simply willing to chitchat. The double chair also gets the pace of skiing right. You feel like you’re part of the landscape instead of whipping through it. Skiing isn’t supposed to be about racking vertical. It’s about chatting quietly with your best friend or a total stranger as you scout your next line and appreciate the mountains in winter. Even one kid-free lift up with my wife is like a flirty date night. It was on double chairs that my squally childhood relationship with my older brother became a lasting bond. As a prepubescent boy, I once sat hip-to-hip and thigh-to-thigh with my seventh-grade crush, just hours after glimpsing her floral waffle-weave long underwear on the ski bus. It was the one and only time I managed the courage to talk to her. It was frigid, as I recall, and I’d been shivering all evening, but for that one perfect ride on the double chair, I was burning.

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