You wait in line watching the clock tick by for the minute the lifts start rolling up the hill. You've been up since an ungodly time in the morning with your slightly reluctant ski partner. You've eaten something that made you feel slightly ill when travelling up. The coffee picked today to scold the roof of your mouth. The sun is only just rising over the taller peaks and the lift is still in shadow. It's still worth it to get that first chair wheeling round the cable and even your crusty socks won't stop your elatedness.
What makes us want to get up for the first lift?
It's almost a rite of passage for the addicted shredder. There's days where you honestly HAVE to be first, the deepest day in 2 or 3 weeks has happened to dump on a Friday night and there is blue skies and cold temperatures predicted. There's a good base. The days where you're up before the ungodly hour and tensions are rising high. You see the guy with those really fat skis stopping to pick up a coffee and you try and speed up ahead of him without him noticing you're making a beeline to be there to glide up the mountain first and plunge into the powdery wonderland. It's 10 minutes before it opens. You've beaten Mr. Yellow Pants and Salomons to the lift, but you make it over the peak and there's 3 guys ahead of you. You watch your breath rise in clouds from under your facemask and the air is crisp. No wind. You wipe your mitt clad hand through the freshly fallen snow and it just sinks and sinks. You make sure no-one will pass before you and your buddies. You're going to be on second lift. And the day of your first, FIRST lift of the season on that memorable blower pow day, there is always a miracle for you and your group of companions. The guys in front have to wait for their friend to adjust his bindings. The one's in front are browsing the map, just something so trivial, their opportunity is gone and as the bell dings and the liftie steps out with his smoking pipe to watch the first chair sail upwards, you and your friends rush round them and sit down hard on the chair circling round and you let out a sigh of relief. 5 minutes from that point you will be the first ones having the snow fly up and submerge you.
Who can let a WHAT TIME?! O'clock in the morning stop them getting this?
Other days you just feel you have to be there. It might be late spring, there's 10 others coming up to ski and the area has closed most of the lifts. The air is already warming around you and the corduroy is already feeling soft. There's a haze looking outwards from where you're standing and it looks like you're in a filter. The lifts have already started when you get there and there is no-one in sight. The restaurants are empty, the hotels and village are lifeless. Whoever is running the lifts has gone to the toilet and you and whoever you're with are have no competition gliding onto the ice and being whooshed from the shadows of the lift station into the ever brightening sun of the morning. No clouds. The park melted out last week. One side has snow, the other is almost summery grass and you can hear birds sing. The view goes on forever. Even when you step out at the other end, still no-one is behind you.
Some days are too beautiful to miss. Why not be there first? [P: moon-moon in Davos last spring with him]
There are days where you wish you hadn't gotten up early. There are days you wish you had. But you can always remember the days where you got that day where you got the first lift and it was so incredibly worth it it's in your mind for years. A nipple deep powder grey day in the trees. A slushy park day, the unexpected day at the smaller area you sometimes go to that had wind lips after every turn. Your first time in a legendary resort. The first lift back home after being away.
Sometimes it's just impossible. We all have friends that can't be bothered to get up in time to ride the sacred first chair. They say it's not worth it.
I think we can all say, we'd sacrifice hundreds of hours of sleep every year, to have the opportunity to ride the first lift every day of the winter, no matter the weather. A bad days skiing is better than a good days work. And a good days skiing is better than everything. (Plus those first lines you got on your secret area because you got up earlier made those faceshots that much sweeter and the whoops at the bottom louder)
Virtue brings rewards and sometimes pow. Get up earlier more often and reap the benefits
The first lift amplifies our love for the endless search for those great days. It makes it all the more worthwhile.
I hope this stirred up some memories. What are some of those days you got the first lift that make you wish to relive? Post that day in the comments