The world conspires to crowd you. Sure there are far-flung locales, deep wilderness treks, enclaves of isolation that one can seek out with enough time and resources, but a bit of quiet time alone in the standard day to day is rare. Skiers, perhaps more than their share, feel this. Chairlifts have grown in speed and capacity reflecting just how tough it is to skip the small talk, to sit quietly and just be, to exist in a conscious way. The inventor of the high-speed quad never had solitude or self reflection in mind in its design. This, perhaps more than any other reason, is why the Single Chairlift at Mad River Glen has such a profound hold on its fans. Sure, nostalgia plays into it. Much has been written about the plucky cooperative ski area with its natural snow, its skiing terrain, its dated anti-snowboarding policy. Yes, the single chair fits into a narrative that’s in line with the trend of heritage brands, throwback products and familiar history assuring you the future won’t be so bad. Yes, “skiing it if you can” includes riding bygone, if romantic, technology abandoned by all other, perhaps less poetically-inclined, ski areas years ago. But then there’s a reality that steps in and writes its own story about time on the single chair, a story that isn’t so postcard-friendly: some rides up the single chair might be cold. Some may even be (gasp) lonely. These cold rides are foreboding enough that even to draw out the warm company of a smart phone proves too much effort. It’s those days when the single chair perhaps makes the most sense. There, floating above the sharp pines and carefully guarded lines of East Coast powder, up and up into the clouds of the icy Mad River Valley does one get the rare opportunity to merely exist. Wrapped in the wool layers and weather proof shells of skiing makes inhaling and exhaling a little more audible, the anticipation of very natural ski turns just ahead, so much sweeter. When the ride ends, when the bar is lifted on the ramp back to friends, terrain and skiing’s more often photographed merits, it’s the journey up the hill alone, in quiet waiting, that can stay with you well after the last après beer is finished. That ten minutes is a place for skiing meditation, for centering. In a world that conspires to crowd you, Mad River’s single chair exists to let you be.
Want two tickets to Mad River Glen? Join our Secret Weapon contest on instagram and share a photo of your #secretwpn for a chance to win great prizes from our winter friends Julbo, Swix and of course Ibex. Visit instagram.com/ibexwool to find the official #secretwpn details. Contest ends Nov. 21st 2014.
(photo courtesy of Mad River Glen)