As the northern hemisphere is dragged into winter kicking and screaming, safety is the byword as ski resorts across the Alps and the Rockies prepare for the second half of a pretty mediocre year of skiing. But it’s not all fun and games. Annoyingly, ski resorts need to keep patrons safe from getting maimed and losing their limbs.
This involves hiring a crew of well-trained and underpaid lift operators. Their job is 50% pressing a button, 49% shovelling, and 1% having total responsibility over the life of another human being.
Unfortunately, the number of people who will work in -20°C snowstorms just for a free lift pass and two crates of Corona a month is pretty low. But there’s one group of people who will stand on the frontlines and keep skiers and their families safe while still kinda tipsy: Aussies on working holidays.
“Uhhhh nah yeah, I reckon I’m pretty good at this,” said 19-year-old Todd “Stinky” Williams, a New South Welsh lifty with a steaming hangover at Kicking Horse, Canada.
Was pretty cool seeing snow for the first time ‘ey.
The role of the lifty is to make sure the resort guests don’t immediately die when boarding or offloading from ski lifts. They do this by pressing the emergency stop button the moment someone faceplants off the chair. Stinky heard about the job from his older brother, who just did a season in Cardrona, New Zealand, and enticed him with stories of lifty debauchery. So far he has accidentally been scooped up by the lift three times. His punishment? Having to shave off one of his eyebrows like a mad dog.
Like most lift operators, Stinky is unable to function without guzzling a moose-load of Budweiser every weeknight. In his defence, he takes his responsibility for a multi-million dollar chairlift and the lives of the people on it pretty seriously. Today, for example, he dropped acid a full seven hours before rocking up to work.
“Yeah, he’s a pretty big fuck-up,” said his supervisor, Derek “the Yeti” Evans. “But nobody apart from Australians want to do this job.”
Stinky is currently trying to unhook his sleeve from the Poma lift and has already been dragged 20 m up the slope. Our reporter made an awkward exit as the Yeti hit the emergency stop button and helped untangle the 19-year-old.
The Tragic Traveller will return later in the season for an update.