Love this, I spent the 20-21 ski season bumming up at steamboat in the ticket office (great crew)

I’d just started writing and I actually started a Google doc “people I met on chair lifts” and just started taking notes.

Crazy how many people you meet on the lift. I’ve shared ski lifts with not only my friends but also olympians, lifelong ski bums, entrepreneurs, parents, teenagers and everyone else.

My only regret was not taking more notes on who I shared ski lifts with

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Well written. That said, there are no friends on a powder day 😉

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Jun 9, 2023Liked by Cole Noble

ski areas are essentially dense, walkable (skiable) communities full of amazing public transit (ski lifts) and people playing with their bodies. i have "ski lift" interactions all day long in my dense, walkable neighborhood. we need more parks and "third places" where chance encounters are more likely. what happens when we leave the mountain? we get into cars and isolate ourselves completely.

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That statistic about prisoners getting more time outdoors than kids is terrifying and depressing...

I agree that outdoor activities tend to invite interactions more quickly - I've fist-bumped random strangers while mountain biking past them on the trail, and it's an easy conversation starter to ask someone about their bike in the parking lot. But most of the time those interactions don't turn into anything else. The interaction is just too short to become meaningful, I think.

I think the key might be putting yourself into situations where you have a chance to spend more time with those folks - I met my current best riding buddy (who has also become one of my best friends) just a couple years ago at a trail work party. Even then, it could have been a passing acquaintanceship if another friend hadn't thought to invite her on our next ride.

Making and keeping friends takes effort, and a willingness to push past the initial, "Hey, you seem like a cool dude/dudette!" As outdoor enthusiasts, we have so many opportunities to make friends - thanks for a great article and making us think about this!

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I love chair lift talks. It's too complicated to take off gloves and get out a phone -- and risky since you might drop the gloves or phone -- so people just sit and talk. I found a similar dynamic as you describe while hiking parts of the Camino de Santiago last April, and I have since made a greater effort to make eye contact and small talk while waiting in line at the grocery store or post office. Thanks for your post!

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Jun 1, 2023Liked by Cole Noble

Love this. Ironic that something designed to keep us in touch is doing just the opposite and keeping us apart. Phones are not our friends. Wondering what the chairlift equivalent is for summer folk...

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I moved to my current home during the pandemic. It is absolutely the loneliest place I've ever lived in.

I don't fit in to the outdoor activities (hunting, fishing, boating, and oh yeah, drinking beer and sitting seem to rival the former.)

I'm the the flatlands of the Midwest coming out of Reno/Tahoe.

I don't have an answer but am trying to get my husband to consider moving. He's not a mountain or an ocean guy... might be challenging.

Anyway, great article.

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Very interesting observation, on the ski lift community and contemporary society in general. My home area is an independent area in Southern Vermont. We are not on any mega passes, and lift capacity is such that one can usually evade long lift lines, and attendants don't match up single or complete a quad chair unless the lines dictate it. Consequently, a lot of solo rides, even if there is a moderate queue. What I find interesting is the resulting dance. Some people will pull away, or pull back as we approach the lift to avoid riding together. The body language communication. Others, conversely, will ask if I mind them riding with me. The introvert/people person in me will sometimes ask if someone doesn't mind if I ride with them, and there is a varied level of interest returned in that. All said, some very interesting conversations occur, and sometimes connections with other mountain regulars, so we are no longer strangers.

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