Warming Up Ski Season

Nothing puts a damper on a perfect day of fresh powder skiing like a frigid chairlift ride up to the summit, with the wind whistling through the trees and nipping at any and all slivers of exposed skin. My hardy New England eyes are watering just thinking about my subzero jaunt up Jay Peak on the “Freezer” last winter.

What if there was a high-speed lift that sheltered you from the cold, and still allowed you to keep your equipment on (unlike a gondola, where you have to remove your skis and board — a hindrance when you’re trying to squeeze as many runs as possible into the day)?

These so-called bubble lifts are already popular in Europe, and on December 10, Vermont’s Mount Snow opened its own version, the cushy, six-passenger Bluebird Express, the first of its kind in North America.

Courtesy of Mount Snow

Last weekend, my friends and I skied Mount Snow and rode the new $8.5 million bubble lift several times. Manufactured by Leitner-Poma and named for “bluebird days” (when there’s a bright cerulean sky and fresh snow on the slopes), the Bluebird Express moves at 1,020 feet per minute and scales the mountain in just over seven minutes. Not only are the chairs stylish (in a space age-y way), but they’re smart, too — the bubble and bar automatically go up when you’re ready to disembark at the top.

Granted, it wasn’t that cold last Saturday (a freakish 40+ degrees for New Year’s Eve), but it got pretty toasty with six people under the hood and I could imagine how nice it would be to ward off Jack Frost when the mercury dips later this season.

Now, if only they could find a way for it to dispense hot toddies…