John Bleh with daughter

The Joy of Summiting a Chairlift

If you didn’t already know, my wife and I are expecting our second little one in about a month. As I sat preparing for those sleepless post-birth few months, I realized that the clock was ticking on our current two-year-old’s final days as an only child. So last weekend we took her on what may be one of her last solo adventures before she has her baby brother in tow. We drove up and over the App Gap to Bristol, grabbed takeout brunch from Snap’s, and had a great picnic at the top of the practice slope of Mad River Glen.

My daughter’s favorite part, aside from ignoring most of the pancake we got her and instead stealing all of my corned beef hash (Snap’s puts maple syrup in theirs and it is maybe the best food you’ll ever eat), was standing at the top of the practice double and looking down the mountain. And I get it, there’s something so enjoyable about standing at the top of a chairlift in the summer and looking out over the horizon. That feeling you get standing on the top and looking down a lift line isn’t something you can easily replicate, and it spans different age groups, backgrounds, and belief systems. How can you not find joy in it?

Maybe it’s getting a chance to see how steep a ski trail looks in the summer (because they always look steeper). Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of an empty chairlift against a green backdrop. Maybe it’s just the incredible views that come from being at the top of the mountain. Or maybe it’s just the perfect combination of something we love to do in the winter (ski and ride) and something we love to do in summer (hike). Whatever the reason, so many of us winter sport enthusiasts find ourselves hiking up empty ski slopes for those summit chairlift photos and views. 

Plus every chairlift offers its own window to a different a viewpoint. The top of Heaven’s Gate or Summit offer incredible views of the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain, while the top of North Lynx gives you breathtaking views of the rest of Lincoln Peak. Where’s the best view on Slide Brook? That’s a great question. Even a quick jaunt to the top of the Village or Sunshine Quads give interesting perspectives.

At this point I’ve only managed to get my daughter as high as the top of the Green Mountain Express Quad, and it will probably be a little bit of time before we truly make it to the summit of one of the mountains as a family. We’re in that tricky age where they start to get too heavy to throw in a backpack but aren’t big enough to fully make the hike themselves. But who knows, perhaps in late fall my wife will strap the baby on her back and I’ll work a combination carry/walk with my daughter to get to one the summits. Because the joy of summiting a chairlift is something every past, present, and future skier and riding should experience.

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