As I rise up the flank of Lookout Mountain in the brand-new Teepee Town LX Lift at Sunshine Village, I experience something truly shocking. I’m warm.
Anyone who rode the former 1979 two-person lift knows the stamina and determination it took. On cold, windy days, it felt like you were being served up as a sacrificial offering to the mountain gods on a plate of cold, uncomfortable metal. Ascending the ridge, you’d receive the full force of nature’s wrath as you met the wind head on. But even then it was worth it, a sort of penance for some of Sunshine’s most challenging terrain and aggressive moguls.
Now the ride has become so much sweeter.
Sitting back in the new lift, I drop the footrest and an orange bubble automatically descends, wrapping me in a dome of warmth. The seats are heated, just like my Volkswagen, and I’m moving at a pace of 1000 feet per minute, virtually flying up the mountain. The chair speed has doubled, taking me from the sub-alpine forest to the alpine zone in 4.5 minutes (twice as fast as before). I’m cocooned, protected and comfortable.
The view of the mountain is tinted orange, and its features seem to pop even more vividly, like when you put on orange-tinted goggles in flat light and suddenly you can see.
I had the chance to chat with Lindsay Gallagher, media and marketing coordinator at Sunshine Village as we rode up the gondola from the parking lot to the mountain base together.
“We wanted to practice what we preach and give back to people to make their experience better,” she explains. “The new lift cost approximately $5 million. A big investment.”
Gallagher mentions that people often think of Teepee Town as a double-black diamond-only area, but she explains that it provides access to moderate terrain on the Angel lift, too. “It’s not only for advanced skiers,” she says.
When Sunshine announced it was building the new lift, people wanted to buy the old chairs for their decks and houses.
“There’s even a hotel in Revelstoke that has a patio filled with old chairlift chairs,” Gallagher says.
In the end, Sunshine sold the lift to a small BC resort, recycling it as it has done with other smaller resorts like Castle Mountain.
The T P Main Chutes are among my favourite runs. They are black-diamond terrain studded with gorgeous moguls and fun features. And now there’s even more opportunity to ski them. Some hardcore folks might feel their territory is being poached, but on a frigid, windy day even those hardened souls are likely to be thankful for the shelter of the new bubbles. I know I was. The wind howled and whistled outside, but in my little orange micro-climate I just leaned back and enjoyed the view.