by Jonathan Thesenga
Go get a beer or take one more run? The weather was crapping out – typical Oregon jive of intermittent freezing rain and nuclear wind gusts – but it was late in the ski season, possibly my last day on the mountain for the year. What the hell ... one more high-speed bomb down a groomer and then straight to the bar.
By the time I had waded through the clogged lift line, a full-on Oregon springtime tempest was unloading on the mountain: nasty, wet and super dismal. I zipped up tight, cinched down the hood, and hunkered onto the chair; head down, eyes shut, prepped to suffer. One more ride, then the beer and warmth, one more ride ...
The lift lurched to a stop two-thirds of the way up. What the ... ? Just wonderful – stuck on the lift in an ice storm. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty minutes. Forty minutes. Nothing. The lift was dead.
My buddies had skinned up nearby Tumalo Mountain that day, but not me. Nooooo. I had wanted to score stacks of runs and not have to work for it. Now they were probably hitting the pubs in town (helloooo, ladies!) after a proud day of powder, while I had paid $60 for a lift ticket only to be stuck festering in an ice storm like a chump, waiting for some wrench-head to fix the lift.
After an hour (an hour!), a patroller skied below and merrily yelled up to me, “Don’t you worry, sir, they’re working on getting the lift running again.” I’m not worried – I’m pissed off! Now get me off this frickin’ lift! They were going to have to hook me up with a refund. I did not pay good money for this kind of “we’ll be with you in a moment” garbage.
At the height of my freezing/boiling point, the lift slowly began groaning upward again, ice cracking off the frozen cables. Hallelujah! It’s alive! It’s alive! Through the horizontal freezing rain I could soon see the lift tower, and then a solitary skier-services employee passing something out to my disembarking fellow sufferers. Ah ha! They had beaten me to it and were dishing out free tickets or double refunds. Maybe even comping us weeklong passes.
Well, well, apology accepted. I freed my frozen ass from the chair and skied up to collect my voucher, only to see that it read: “Enjoy a complimentary medium coffee or tea at any of the mountain’s lodges on us! Sorry for the delay! (Offer good for today only).” This was their apology for screwing me over for 90 minutes?! A free cup of piss-poor instant coffee?!
Never again, I vowed to myself a few minutes later as I thawed out over a much-deserved beer at the lodge’s bar. It was back to the backcountry scene for me. I’d rather sweat for my turns. And with that I powered back the beer, slid on my hat, put on my gloves, and headed for the door, leaving the barman an appropriate tip, a voucher that read: “Enjoy a complimentary medium coffee or tea at any of ...”