Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Saturday, March 31, 2012

Skiing - An Uplifting Experience

It's spring time in Edmonton. 
Which is really no different from winter.
Except for the date.
Today we were driving past one of the many ski hills that abound in the area.
The slopes were covered with intrepid skiers.
And not-so-intrepid ones.
But watching them ride the lifts reminded me of something . . .

Years ago, our family used to ski Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana.
Every winter.
It was the highlight of our year.
Well, mine, anyway.
Dad forked over a whopping $3. per ticket for us to ride all the lifts all day.
Watched as we attached said ticket to our ski jackets.
Then waved us off cheerily.
I don't know what he and Mom did all day while we kids were having the time of our lives.
But as long as he showed up at the end of the day and immediately took us to be fed, we were happy.
But back to the ski slope . . .
At that time, Big Mountain had four main slopes.
There was the bunny hill.
Which we learned on.
Then immediately spurned.
Two intermediate slopes.
Where I and my siblings spent the most time.
And, finally, the advanced slope.
Which, for me, merely served as the entrance to the back trails. (See here.)
Oh, I skied it.
Once.
And ended up taking off my skis and walking down.
Don't ask.
Moving on . . .
The first thing we learned about skiing was the fact that you had to get to the top of the hill before you could come down.
Skiing 101.
And that required the use of the tows/lifts.
Sure. It looks fun here . . .
The bunny slope had a rope tow.
A very sneaky rope tow.
Consisting of a rope running continuously.
I assume it was pulled by some sort of . . . pulley.
The rope had to be approached cautiously.
One would place one's mittened hands on the rope.
Then slowly tighten said hands around the heavy, quickly-moving hemp until finally, one's grip was tight enough to actually start one sliding up the hill.
It wasn't as easy as it sounds.
If one gripped too hard, the rope would jerk one off one's feet.
Which, I must admit was hilarious.
Unless it was you.
And, even funnier was the sight of a pulled-off/escaped mitten riding up the rope.
All by itself.
Do not attempt this without supervision.
Ouch.
The tow on one of the intermediate hills was a little more . . . touchy.
It was the 'poma' lift.
Pomas consisted of a long pole attached to the high tow wire.
With a little disc welded onto the bottom.
Which disc, when inserted between the skiers legs, would, theoretically pull one up the hill.
It took practice.
A lot of practice.
There were the inevitable mishaps and false starts.
People who lost their grip on the poma and watched it spring up into the air.
While the hapless skier slid to a halt down below.
Or, better yet, the people who lost their balance and were dragged several feet before they realized that any hope of completing their ride to the top was gone and that their best tactic at that point was to . . . let go.
The poma lift always attracted a non-skiing group of observers.
Whose sole purpose was to watch.
And laugh.
Jerks.
I should mention, too, that getting off was . . . tricky.
Enough said.
Effective. And cosy.
The other intermediate slope tow was a 'T' bar.
A bar in the shape of a T.
That pulled two riders up the slope.
Or one rider if the other one fell over.
Which happened a lot.
If you were a bit more of a skiing expert, you got to ride the chair lift.
The most fun of all.
And the easiest to ride.
How often does that happen?
The problem was that it took one to the very highest slope.
And the steepest (see above).
My siblings and I became experts on each of these lifts.
The Ultimate.
Oh, not all at once.
It took time.
And we had our learning curve.
Which was infinitely more 'curve' than 'learning'.
But still, we had fun.
And were finally able to stop providing entertainment for the jerks.
Ah!
Masters of the ski lifts.
Life just didn't get any better.

2 comments:

  1. I'm not sure what's scarier...the ride up or the ride down.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Such wonderful memories . My son also kissed a tree and came back with bruised ribs but I forced him to go back up Otherwise he would lose his nerve. He did and now not only does he ski but snow board and I don't like snow boards lol They are more dangerous than skiing on two skiis.

    ReplyDelete

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