West Buttermilk: Honest liftie, honest skier | AspenTimes.com

West Buttermilk: Honest liftie, honest skier

Lift operator Francisco Rubio of Argentina regulates the flow of skiers onto the West Buttermilk chairlift. Rubio wasnt there when a Times correspondent showed up without a ticket, but the female liftie on duty was unusually kind and trusting. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

It was not my intention to test the patience of a Buttermilk liftie, nor was I intending to scam a freebie.

As it turned out, neither of those outcomes resulted from my hapless arrival in a lift line without a ski pass, lift ticket or any other proof that I’d paid for a ride up the mountain. Instead, I encountered a friendly face who relied on my honesty; I responded with, well, honesty.I wasn’t bracing for hostility, but I was fully expecting to get tossed out of the lift line by someone half my age wielding one of those hand-held ticket scanners and the power that comes with an Aspen Skiing Co. uniform.A friend and I had driven up the slushy road to West Buttermilk for an afternoon of practicing telemark turns on its mellow slopes. We had a freebie ticket and a ski pass between us, but the weather tripped me up. Apparently, the early warmth of spring was turning my brain to mush, much like the snow. I donned a lightweight jacket and left my ski pass in its usual position in the pocket of my ski jacket, hanging in the closet at home.

We peered from the West Buttermilk parking lot down to the lower lift terminus. The little building down there didn’t look like it would have a ticket window. I could either drive all the way home to grab my pass, or we could drive down to main Buttermilk and shell out the bucks for one at the ticket window there.Or, we could ski down to the lift, explain our predicament and hope for an accommodating response from a dubious lift op who’d probably heard every why-you-should-let-me-on-the-lift story in the book. Yeah, right.So, imagine my surprise when she let us on the lift without so much as a condescending roll of the eyes. We could ride up West Buttermilk, ski down the main mountain to the ticket office and buy a lift ticket, she said.

Of course, with the midmountain loading point on the new West Buttermilk chair, we needn’t have purchased a ticket at all. We could have repeatedly skied to that station, where they don’t scan passes, without ever venturing near a ticket office.But we didn’t. She’d trusted us and we responded by buying a ticket and skiing all the way down West Buttermilk just so we could show her we had it.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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