December 28th, 2010

Here’s a favorite nightmare

A ski lift derails in Maine, sending skiers plummeting up to 30 feet and injuring several. The accident was attributed to high winds, which were clocked at around 40 miles per hour.

All of New England has experienced strong winds lately to go along with the cold. I was out walking yesterday for about five minutes, and the wind made it an utterly miserable experience that I was all too happy to end, pronto. I’m not a skier, but I have a question for those skiers among you: why would anyone venture out to ski recreationally when the weather’s like that? The article said that 220 people were on the lift at the time of the accident—all of them insane.

16 Responses to “Here’s a favorite nightmare”

  1. SteveH Says:

    I’d say a ski lift that could even possibly be derailed by high winds is a terrible feat of engineering design. My money is on somebody is conveniently using that as an excuse.

  2. Russ Says:

    Why would you ski in such weather? Well…

    Many people could be there on vacation, figuring that they have only a limited number of days to ski… and besides, if it were dangerous the slopes would be closed, right?

  3. Baklava Says:

    It’s natural selection (deselection)

    These same people probably like Obamacare….

    Making poor choices in life is a habit of liberals…

    HA ! Leave it to me to bring politics to the matter :)

  4. Tom Says:

    The lawyers are circling.

  5. gs Says:

    …why would anyone venture out to ski recreationally when the weather’s like that?

    1. Perhaps the euphoria of success is enhanced by the contrast with the discomfort of the struggle.

    2. Presumably there’s also a degree of bonding:

    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    …And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

  6. turfmann Says:

    Why?

    Recall the old yarn:

    In Maine there are seven months of winter and five months of damned poor sleddin’

    It was only in the single digits there today. That’s not too bad if you dress properly.

  7. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    From age 6 to 45 I was a skiing addict. I was raised in the mountains of Colorado. Most everybody in my home town skied. Our local ski area was based at 9500 feet and most of the slope was above the tree line. The winds were fierce, and the snow was often rock hard from being polished by the wind. It was a badge of honor to be out there with the wind howling, the visibility near zero, and the wind chill well below zero.

    If you are not a skier it is hard to understand the sport. The cold weather aspect defines it as only for those who love it. The love comes from the sensation of moving gracefully down the mountain with your skiis in control while defying gravity’s pull. When you gain some skill, you achieve the sensation of “flow.” It’s a melding of mind, body, and environment into a harmonious state of exhilaration. That releases endprphins that make you want to do it over and over. The other attraction is that as you practice more you improve and learn. You become capable of handling more challenging runs and conditions, which leads to more “flow.”

    Never saw a lift accident, but have been stranded on a lift for two hours by a power failure. Cold, miserable experience but no more. Lift failure does happen. However, if the statistics were known, riding a ski lift is probably like flying in an airliner; much safer than driving.

    I eventually quit because the equipment and lift costs became more than I was willing to pay. By then I was deep into mountain climbing, which has much the same attractions as skiing but costs a lot less.

    Anyway, I understand the motivations of skiers very well. They are not crazy. They are hooked on the adrenaline and endorphin rush that skiing provides. Being out in the cold and snow is, for most, an added benefit. When you are dressed properly, it is a beautiful scene.

  8. kcom Says:

    What I’ve been wondering about a lot lately is how do animals survive this kind of weather? I’m in the South so temps here have been in the 20s and 30s, not the single digits or below like farther north, but it’s cold enough for me just to pull up to my curb, get out, check the mail, and go in the house. Then I think about the birds and squirrels and other animals out in that weather 24 hours a day for weeks. Do they suffer? Is it a living hell for them? How could their little bodies possibly keep up with the physical demands that would be required to deal with that. They can’t even put on gloves or a sweater (or a windbreaker).

  9. Artfldgr Says:

    if you dress correctly then even that cold wind dont bother much…

    I have a pull over thingie that is like a hood with nothing. put that on, and put layers, and proper clothes, and your warm and toasty (unless wet)…

    usually the people that complain tend not to dress in a way that makes it enjoyable…

    they are crazy cause your ill prepared?

    my wife does this all the time, and goes so far as to say that i love the cold… no.. i like it cool because i suffer from hyperhydrosis, and will sweat otherwise.

    but cold… nope… dont like it.

    but i dress right… plastic bags over the feet, undershirt, shirt, sweater, sweatshirt, larger wool piece, larger cloth jacket… hood cover, with jacket hood… and scarf… with mitten gloves…

    and each xmas i give new friends an emergency mylar blanket… why? because of what happened yesterday… 12 hours on a train and no heat for unlucky passengers…

    the more you go out in the cold the more you get used to it… when its not severe i can have my jacket open, hat off, etc… (severe is below 0).

  10. Tom Says:

    Don’t get your knickers in a knot, kcom. Yep, the cold kills, but not as many as you fear. Critters have lived outdoors forever, and they have their ways of making it. Look for fat sparrows-they’ve fluffed out their feathers for great insulation. Squirrels hunker down in holes in trees. And it goes on.
    Ruffed grouse, who live in harsh northern winter places like Maine and Minnesota, actually fly headfirst into snowdrifts, spending the night cozily in their little snow caves–igloo equivalents.

  11. Mark Says:

    How about surfers doing their thing during a storm? Same thing. Dopes, all of them.

  12. julia NYC Says:

    I LOVE to ski, and am skiing tomorrow, and am terrified of heights, so find chair lifts unnerving. Those poor folks. That accident is my worst nightmare. Hope they recover.

  13. Engineer Bob Says:

    I like skiing in blizzards. It keeps the lift lines down. And I rarely get to ski in fresh snow several feet deep otherwise.

    As for the cold and wet — dress for it. It can be done. In a real blizzard, it should be too cold for wet, unless you mess up and get a load of snow inside your clothes.

  14. Rupert Says:

    Skiers always seemed strange. Of course, I used to sit on a bucket, in below zero weather, in the hopes of catching dinner. I’m sure they thought I was as crazy as I thought they.

  15. helvetica Says:

    My boss was planning on taking his kids of Sugarloaf this weekend. Now he is taking them to Saddleback (different ski resort).

    I used to ski but now I do not go outside unless it is at least 70.

  16. Gringo Says:

    Mark:
    How about surfers doing their thing during a storm? Same thing. Dopes, all of them.

    I have seen surfers in body suits in winter weather on the Maine coast.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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