Ode to a Lift

Ode to a Lift

Downhill skiing can be a hypercompetitive sport. Even a little fun day on the mountain can turn into an exhausting and exhilarating athletic experience. The mega ski resorts are designed to maximize your pursuit of vertical feet. With high-speed quad and six-pack lifts, pass chip readers and other innovations, it is a high-tech business. 
But there is a place that will slow you down. Lift #9 at Telluride serves some of the most incredible advanced terrain in the world. And it goes slow. With over 2,100 feet of elevation gain spread over a mile of mountain. The 30+ year old triple-chair lift routinely takes 13 – 15 minutes to get you to the peak.
At the end of the ride, you arrive at the top of the world. From this vantage point you can see forever. The runs served by Lift #9 are long, steep leg-burners that will challenge the most advanced skiers. It is easy to spend an entire day just running the terrain served by this iconic piece of dated technology. 
The allure of Lift #9 is not, however, in the runs it enables you to make. It is the ride itself. During those 13+ minutes you can meditate in a truly zen setting, brainstorm crazy ideas, post pics to social media, write a song or a poem, or contemplate the big questions of life. What is the nature of objective reality? Is the journey really the destination? What is my purpose? You can also have a real conversation with an old friend with breeze, trees, snow and sunshine as your only distractions.
You can also give serious thought to the tree full of Mardi Gras beads or the one full of panties. What is the deal with the panties? Were they lucky panties? Old and ready to be thrown out? Worn last night? What was the motivation to expend the energy in planning and effort that went into getting those panties in the tree? Some questions are unanswerable even on Lift #9.
There is something about a ride on this lift that inspires creativity. Search “Telluride Lift #9” on YouTube and you’ll find a treasure trove of video that dives into the psyche of the many people that love the ride.
I will admit to being an all-out, bell-to-bell skier that loves to track vertical feet and speed. I love the physical challenge of pushing beyond limits and seeing how much my body can take. Skiing is sport.
Lift #9 reminds me to slow down and take it all in. These precious minutes are worth savoring, especially if you get to share them with someone special. Live large and enjoy the ride. 




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