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July 2022

Mountain Spy :: July 2022


Written by Jack Fagone | 0 comment

Summer draws an entirely different crowd to the mountains than winter. Summer scenic lift riders are likely less familiar with using chairlifts, or, as with the Spy’s hypothetical 80-year-old grandparents, perhaps less agile than your average skier or rider. We cannot take for granted that everyone who visits our mountains in summer knows how to ride a chairlift. It’s an extreme experience for some people, and many don’t know what to expect—hence the question. 

Additionally, SAM has seen firsthand what happens when a grandparent misloads the lift (answer: hip surgery). 

It is important to make your guests feel safe and welcome when they are planning a trip to your resort. Some staff took the time to explain what riding the lift is like, make sure I understood what to expect for my “grandparents,” and ask follow-up questions. That provided a sense of security. Vagueness, on the other hand, did not.

Been asked an interesting question recently? Send it to for the Spy to pose to other ski areas. We won’t tell anyone the question came from you. Plus, if we use it, we won’t call you. 



First contact: Male.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Well, my mom is 80 and she’s skied a hundred days this winter, so they should be all set (chuckles).

SAM: OK, they just move a bit slower, so I wanted to make sure that it would be OK for them to get off the lift.

Staff: As long as they are comfortable, I am sure they will have a great time. Pick a nice sunny beautiful day, and they’ll have a great time.

SAM: It isn’t hard to get off the lift at the top? Does it go slow?

Staff: No, it goes really slow. You know, when you get on the lift you can just request of the lifty at the bottom, “You know, when we get to the top, do you think you could slow it way down for my grandparents?”

SAM: OK, great.

Staff: There is no water or food available at the top of the lift, so you know. You may want to bring a couple bottles of water, that sort of thing. You know, sunscreen, hat, a jacket in case it gets windy or cold.

SAM: Great, thank you for the help.

Staff: Yeah, we look forward to seeing you here.

Score: 6

Comment: Hey, good for your mom, but if my grandparents were skiers would I be calling with this question? First impressions matter. He got points for turning it around and providing good info, though. 



Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yes. Are they in a wheelchair or walker?

SAM: No, they just move quite slow.

Staff: OK, well you can tell the operators and then they will stop the gondola to let your grandparents on and off if that’s necessary. 

SAM: OK, great. We just tell the operators at the bottom of the gondola, and they will also notify the top?

Staff: Right, and there’s a bench—I think it’s like 14 inches wide—that you sit on in the gondola.

SAM: Oh, great. So, there is plenty of room then. Is it hard to get off at the top even with it being stopped?

Staff: No, not at all.

SAM: Great, thank you.

Staff: You’re welcome, have a good one.

Score: 8

Comment: I appreciate that she asked if my grandparents were using walkers or wheelchairs to better understand the situation. She was helpful and answered my questions clearly. Nice job.



First contact: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: If they’re able to get on and off the chairlift on their own. 

SAM: Is it hard to get off the chairlift?

Staff: Yeah, sometimes it is because it is constantly moving. It does tend to slow down. You can watch the lifts on [resort website] and see how they work. (Provides directions to find the webcams on the resort website). It does tend to slow down at the top. It goes really fast all the way up, and then, at that point, to unload it slows down but does not stop.

SAM: OK, so it does not stop at all?

Staff: That is correct, but there will be the attendants up there as well.

SAM: Is it hard to get off? Is it a flat ramp or do they have to go down a slope?

Staff: Yes, you will get off on the ramp and then there will be a downhill. A slanted downhill.

SAM: Are there any railings or anything?

Staff: No, there is not.


Staff: So, go ahead and take a look at the webcams and watch that for a while, and you can see how all that works; how it slows down but does not stop and gives you a little time to get off and it is a slant.

SAM: Yes, I will go do that. I just want to make sure that everyone is safe as they do move a bit slower. 

Staff: Thank you very much. I appreciate you calling.

SAM: OK, thank you.

Score: 5

Comment: It was a nice touch to suggest looking at the webcams to see if I thought my family could handle it. But it doesn’t sound like this place will make accommodations for those who can’t. Can you tell she was ready to end the call?



Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yeah, absolutely, as far as I know. I can transfer you to the ticketing office so they can give you more specific protocols and more information on any concerns that you might have on it.

SAM: Yes, that would be great.


Second contact: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yeah, we don’t limit it to age. It’s just if they feel comfortable getting on and off. I am pretty sure that you can ask the lift attendant to slow it down for getting on and off the chairlift.

SAM: OK. I just wanted to make sure for their safety. They are excited, but move a bit slower, so I wanted to double-check.

Staff: Yeah, and I’m sure if you just let them know, they can just slow it down a bit to give them more time to get on and off.

SAM: At the top when they get off, do they have to go down a ramp or is it flat up there?

Staff: Um, I am trying to remember. I was up there last week. It is a ramp, but it does have a railing.

SAM: Oh, perfect.

Staff: Yes, so it is pretty accessible. They should be fine.

SAM: OK, thank you for your help.

Staff: Yes, no problem. Have a great day.

Score: 6

Comment: Good job transferring me to someone with answers, and both staffers were nice—but the answers I got didn’t instill much confidence. I’m pretty sure it should be fine?



Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yeah, they should be able to. They can stop it so they can get on and then stop it again once at the top so they can get off.

SAM: Oh, great. Is it hard to get on and off the chairlift?

Staff: There might be a small little jump off but not a huge one.

SAM: OK, so they should be alright then?

Staff: I would think so.

SAM: Great, thank you for your help.

Staff: Yeah, no problem.

Score: 5

Comment: Picturing my grandparents needing to take a “small little jump” off the chair gets my Spy-dey senses tingling. 



Answering phone: : Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: (mumbling) Yes, they can do the [lift name]. 

SAM: I am sorry, could you repeat that?

Staff: The [lift name] can come to a complete stop for persons who are disabled or who aren’t able to hop on.

SAM: OK, great. Is it hard to get on and off even if stopped?

Staff: It slows down for people to hop on, but if it’s going to be difficult for someone disabled, they will stop it completely. 

SAM: Once they are off at the top is there a ramp to walk down or is it a flat area?

Staff: Yes, we do have a ramp for a person to push a wheelchair or to walk down.

SAM: Great, and that isn’t steep to walk down?

Staff: No, it is not.

SAM: OK, great. Thank you for your help.

Staff: You are welcome. Have a wonderful day.

Score: 4

thumbs downComment: The information was good, but she was extremely hard to hear and her tone was, just, ugh.



Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yes, so, first of all, the lift is a detachable chairlift, which means it slows down when it is at the bottom station and at the top station. And also, if they have trouble walking, our attendants can stop the lift. If you just let the lift attendant know at the bottom, they can call the top and give them a heads up and we can take care of them.

SAM: Oh, great.

Staff: As long as they’re not afraid of heights (chuckles). 

SAM: They are fine with that. They just move a little slow, so I was worried if they would be able to make it off.

Staff: Right, so like I said, the lift does slow down. And if that isn’t slow enough, they can stop it.

SAM: Is it hard to get off at the top? Is there a jump to get off?

Staff: No, no, not really. To get on, there shouldn’t be a problem at all. You basically just sit back down like you would on a chair. To get off, as long as you’re regular height—for little kids it would be a big jump or shorter people—if you are regular height, it’s not a problem at all. 

SAM: Great, OK.

Staff: And then, at the top, there is a wooden ramp that they would have to walk down.

SAM: Oh, OK. That sounds great. Thank you for your help.

Staff: You are welcome. You have a great day.

Score: 10 

thumbs upComment: She was friendly, engaged, and patient. But more importantly, she explained the lift ride clearly and thoroughly—like (gasp!) she knew I was asking because I really didn’t know what to expect for my grandparents. Nice job!

Identity revealed: Sugar Mountain