Here's a conversation I had this weekend, fifty feet up in the air.
Me: "I can't believe this chair lift doesn't have a safety bar. I just cannot believe it."
Juan: "You're gripping a little tight. Scared?"
"Hell, yes. I'm scared of heights and here we are, fifty feet off the ground on a wooden bench in an arctic gale and an ice pack below us. And no bloody safety bar."
"First of all, it's a mild breeze. Second, it's snow beneath you."
"Yeah, fifty feet beneath me."
"Forty. At most."
"Whatever, man. This is 2013, they should have safety bars on chair lifts. On all of them."
"Fall off chairs a lot, do you?"
I don't, actually. But a fear of heights is not always logical. And guess what? I had a small boy, my favorite small boy in the world, next to me.
Think about that. An eight-year-old boy, whose thigh is maybe a foot long, which puts him twelve inches away from a drop that would do some serious damage. And it does get windy up there, it really does. So imagine how terrified I was, holding on for dear life and then having my son perched on the edge of the precipice next to me. I managed to wedge my ski poles in front of him but I can't think they'd really do much but slow any descent, maybe serve only to stab him on the way down.
Yeah, I know, tough life when your biggest problem is with the ski lifts at Park City, Utah.
But it did make me wonder, because you have to agree we live in a pretty litigious society these days. Being a former civil lawyer, I can attest to that, people sue for anything and everything. It's like a sport.
So tell me if I'm nuts, but I genuinely couldn't understand why so many lifts there didn't have safety bars. Ironically, the resort requires kids to wear helmets before they let them have ski lessons.
"Put on your helmet, boy, now go jump off a cliff. You'll be fine."
I suppose I'm wondering whether I'm overreacting because of my own fear of heights, or whether other people think that all lifts should have safety bars. I know the resort owners don't wanna, it costs money, and I just found a wonderfully disingenuous article in the Seattle Times on the subject.
The story is about a four-year-old boy who fell off a lift, and is titled,
"A young skier who fell from a Utah lift was riding a chair that had a
safety bar, proving the device isn't fail-safe and may even have its
drawbacks, ski resort executives said."
Which makes me an idiot, right? Yes, until you read on a little bit: "The boy was with a ski instructor and another young child near the top
of the lift, getting ready to push off the chair when he slipped."
Which means the safety bar wasn't down. Duh.
If you're a skier, or if not, let me know if you have an opinion on this. I'll only add that, even if somehow safety bars aren't worth their weight, they make my experience so much more pleasurable. It's not fun to spend fifteen minutes thinking you and your wee laddie are about to go splat, it severely undermines the enjoyment of the ski experience. Believe it or not, for this reason alone I'd probably avoid going back to Park City. Is that silly?
I'll say one thing for the place, though, the pizza slices were as delicious as they were huge.