Whistler is North America’s number one ski resort and it’s no surprise why – with an elevation of over 2,000m and over 3,000 hectares of skiable terrain across both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, there are endless opportunities for fun!
As you can probably imagine, a lot of work goes into ensuring smooth operations each day for Whistler’s 5,000+ employees and its sometimes 30,000+ guests (yes, that’s per day!). I’ve been working in Whistler as a Lift Operator for the past two seasons so I’m going to take you behind the scenes and into the day-to-day life of a ‘Lifty’ in Whistler.
The morning meeting starts. The liftys ski down from staff housing and pour into the Valley locker room ready for the day’s stats – expected number of guests, weather conditions, Run of the Day and any other extra information needed. Then, it’s time to upload in the Village Gondola.
Half an hour later and I’m at the top of the mountain watching the sun rise behind the snow-capped peaks – a sight I will never get bored of – and I strap in to my snowboard to get those fresh tracks left by the groomer from the night before.
Before I head to my lift for the day I help set up others. We build the mazes so this means the holes are drilled for the poles, the ropes are tied to make the lanes and slow banners are put out to stop Speedy Gonzales! We also re-build our ramps, flip the seats on the chairs and get ready to load the first guests.
Now the real fun begins…I jump on the back of a sled and am sledded to my lift. It’s a fun way to wake up, that’s for sure! A short, but exhilarating ride later and I’m there ready to do the same again, setting up the maze and preparing for the day ahead. The rest of my day is spent loading and unloading guests, chatting and having fun – all ten times better on a bluebird day (code for clear, sunny day in the skiing world).
The time comes to shut the lift. I pull down the maze I built earlier that day, put everything away, shovel fresh snow on to the ramp to re-build it and sled back out to the other chair lift to help pack that away. By this point I’m usually pretty knackered – all that shovelling, raking and lifting is tiring work, believe it or not!
At another chair lift we all meet up to help shut it down and a group of around 14 of us ride down to mid-mountain at the end of the day. It’s always a fun part of the day, riding with the lifty crew! From there we download to the village and clock out around 5:00pm.
The day is done and it’s time for some of that epic Whistler acres and round two the next day! Bring on those fresh tracks!
By Rachel from Hilltops & Flipflops
Check out this amazing video of how Rachael and her friends get to work!