Ski lift chairs are built for two or more. Aside from that, there’s really nothing plural about the sport. It’s a solitary venture. At the top of the lift, gaggles of friends and families disband and carve their own lines down the mountain, similar but separate. Except for those hapless small children whose parents have decided to tether them up with some kind of leash, we ultimately go down alone.
Rather than resisting the solitude of the sport, take at least one day each season to embrace it. For those who have never gone skiing unaccompanied, the joys of a solo ski day are many. To name a few:
Without a partner or a group to coordinate with, the freedom is complete. Want to wake up super-early and catch the first chair? Do it. Want to eat on the lifts rather than taking a lunch break? Pack your picnic for one and stop for nothing. Push yourself on runs you’ve never tried before, losing both skis and poles in a total yard sale. Nobody you know will see it or capture it on their GoPro. Lap around your favorite run six times in a row. Nobody will judge.
As the saying goes, “No friends on a powder day.” On those rare days of ideal conditions, it’s okay to be a little selfish. “I won’t wait to get in line 30 minutes before a lift starts and potentially forgo some fresh tracks just because a buddy is late to join me,” says Crested Butte local Kris Bruun. “Nor would I expect a better skier to wait on me if I were dragging behind.” Some things, like secret stashes, aren’t meant to be shared.
Skiing alone, you can be a self-contained universe inside your helmet. Plug some headphones in and zen out. Lose yourself on the mountain – it doesn’t matter where you end up or when you get there. Deep “me time” is a constructive state, where new ideas are born. Think of it as a meditative retreat (minus the yoga mats, incense, and granola).
Eight Minute Friends
Once you’ve zipped your way through the singles line and onto the chair lift, chances are you’ll be sharing it with strangers. You have two choices: 1) be a fly on the wall and drop eaves on their conversations, collecting a “things overheard” montage, or 2) be sociable and chat it up. For Colorado transplant and ski aficionado Ari Templeton, there’s a certain appeal to the smalltalk. “You never know who you’ll have random eight minute conversations with,” she notes. “It’s people you’ll likely never see again. Over and over.” If the repetition gets boring, sharpen your improv skills. Invent a new persona on every lift.