“Someone help that skier! He’s fallen down a hole!” These are words you won’t hear at the Grand Laquais drag lift in La Clusaz. See, a few weeks ago, we had so much snow in the Aravis that the lift staff were constantly clearing it. So they started getting creative. At the top of le Cret du Merle chairlift, a castle wall was built by the exit, and couches appeared in a few places including the one pictured below, at the bottom of l’Etale telemix.
At Torchere — possibly the highest lift departure in La Clusaz, and always plenty of snow around — the annual igloo was built weeks earlier. Perhaps the guys who dug the hole at Grand Laquais got their inspiration from their colleagues up higher and their choice to dig holes rather than sculpt couches.
Adding the skier into the hole was a brilliant idea! Using ski poles for the snowman’s arms was also a stroke of genius. If nothing else, it provides us all with a bit of entertainment now that the school holidays have brought the queues back to even the most under-used drag lifts in La Clusaz.
And those queues bring agro. The barging begins. Kids are the worst, and I remember doing the same at their age. A ski pole between the tips of their skis signals that I’m aware of what they’re doing and that the war has started. The slow-motion battle, involving shuffling and ski pole placement is often only obvious to the people in battle, while those around are too busy ogling over the beauty of the sun hitting the snow in a tree or a sculpted ice couch to notice that entire battalions have passed them in the queue. So, no matter who loses the one-on-one battle, both armies can claim at least some victories along the way.
With the massive queues and the queue warfare, the best places to go are those with single-file lanes. The lane is a side entrance that lets people skip the entire queue and fill in a spare seat on the chairlift. There’s rarely a long wait. Even if you’re skiing in a group, you’re likely to get to sit together. For example, yesterday, I took the same lift seven times. I waited for perhaps 10 chairlifts in total during all those runs. And twice I got a whole chairlift to myself because the people at the front of the massive queue were too busy ogling at some ice sculpture or something to notice that the barriers had opened to let them through. Despite the lift man yelling at them to advance, it was too late both times, with the barriers closing just as they went to move forward. So they’d motion me — the only person in the alternative queue — to come forward and sit on the chair. Result!
Meanwhile, over at l’Etale telemix, where there is no single-file lane, people are actually sitting on the ice couch for entertainment. Wrong chair, people, but carry on so I can shuffle past you just the same.