Brought to you by Monarch Mountain
Skiing makes the world go-’round … and lifties make the chairlifts go ’round. Lift operators, or lifties, are some of the coolest people on the mountain and work in one of the most awesome positions in the job market. Whether the liftie works at a smaller, local mountain, or a massively commercialized mountain, they are guaranteed to interact with countless skiers and snowboarders every day and receive great benefits.
Arguably, the best part of being a liftie is getting paid to ride. Whether it is in the form of ride breaks or a free season pass, lifties will always find a time to shred. Most ski areas offer their lifties a free season pass, allowing them to ride for free on their days off or to take a few runs between shifts, meaning they discover the runs, terrain, and unique kinks of their mountain quicker than anyone. An often overlooked benefit of being a liftie––they have a great commute to work. From their sunrise drive to the mountain to riding fresh tracks to open up their specific lift for the day, lifties get to see the mountains in their prime form and frequently ride the powder before anyone else.
One of the biggest myths surrounding the liftie position is that it is a tedious job; however, this could not be any less true. Admiring mother nature, interacting with guests, and creating artwork in the snow are only some of the lifties’ favorite activities, and they are sure always to be occupied. Whiteboards near the lifts are filled with customized snow reports, riddles, jokes, and even prizes to keep the guests happy and the lifties entertained. Simply put, guests are looking to have a great time when they come to ski resorts, and lifties are a crucial part, and the motor, of ensuring that this can happen.
Another great part of the job is getting to be a first-hand witness of local progression. Over time, long-serving lifties get to see their respective ski areas make upgrades to their lifts, terrain, and overall demeanor. Similarly, lifties get to see the same locals return to their mountains and progress from basic fundamentals, to learning how to turn and carve, to full-on freestyle riding, all while being stationed in the beautiful outdoors.
To be a liftie means to work at a ski resort, and to work at a ski resort means to join a family. Everyone who works at a ski area is there for the same reason: either they love riding, the mountains and outdoors, or they are there to spread the joy that comes with riding skis or a snowboard. On a typical day, lifties get to not only interact with the mountain’s guests but the patrollers, ticket scanners, instructors, supervisors, and the mountain safety team as well. Work is supposed to be as enjoyable as it is productive, and the best way to guarantee this is by joining a family.
There are valid reasons why lifties tend to work in the mountains for years at a time rather than moving around the job market. The perks, powder, and atmosphere alone are enough of a reason to sign up. At Monarch Mountain in Colorado, one liftie even said, “we have more fun than anybody on this mountain … we try to make the work and fun go together so that way it is not just a job, but an experience“.