Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, June 30, 2017

An Uplifting Experience

It's officially summer time in Edmonton. 
Today we were driving past one of the many ski hills that abound in the area.
The snow is finally gone. The slopes green-grassed and empty.
Only the lifts, looking forlorn and forgotten, are there to remind one of the usual bustle on those slopes.
Lifts.
It 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 $3.00 ($4.00 CAN) 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 by a spring.
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.
HA!
Masters of the ski lifts.
Life just didn't get any better.

14 comments:

  1. This whole post brings back so many fun (and funny0 memories. I'd completely forgotten about those first two, that's how long it's been. Another reason I hate living in the Midwest, no ski mountains. Boooo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's been years since We've been back to Whitefish, Montana for me, too, Karen. I do get out to ski once in a while here in Edmonton, but not nearly often enough!

      Delete
  2. Where I grew up in NYC skiing was a rich person's sport, or so the belief went. Thinking my life would have been so different born elsewhere, but maybe that is why I enjoy your memories so much. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And that's why I enjoy ramblin with you!Other people's memories are amazing! :)

      Delete
  3. Up up and away...and then...down down and away...all day....what fun.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The one and only time I went skiing I discovered I travelled a LOT faster on my face. I am a klutz. My youngest brother loves it and spends months each year chasing the snow though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's how I am when I try snowboarding. My feet weren't made to be fastened together and immovable, thank you! :O

      Delete
  5. My story sounds much like EC's except I ran smack into a fence pole. And that was that ... until cross-country skiing came into vogue, with new ways to hurt myself...no, just no :) Maybe I could have mastered the lifts, though (and maybe not!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The lifts were always, always entertaining. You can come and stand next to me and we'll watch people . . . But we won't be jerks, right? Right?

      Delete
  6. A little learning curve for me today. I assumed all ski slopes had chair lifts and didn't know about the other types.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They were the most entertaining, R! I think as the slopes began to make more money, they put in more expensive tow capabilities. And now they are a major form of revenue. Chair lifts for all! Rats.

      Delete
  7. After taking an hour lesson on my one and only ski trip, I attempted the rope lift. Behind me were my children. As the rope slipped through my hands, a domino effect occurred. Only one of my children made it up, the other three went down with me. They were not happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm . . . the family that tumbles together, grumbles together?

      Delete

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