Lessons from the Lift Line
Story and Photos by Andrea Eldridge
I was lured by the shack. It was kind of like Butch Cassidy and Sundance’s Hole-in-the-Wall the first time I strolled by with the dogs. The poma shack is a little warming hut that houses the electrical control boxes that operate a tow lift that scoots skiers up a hill.
Rock Creek Poma is a hideout on the edge of the Tamarack Ski Resort trail map. It links the homeowners on the south side of Tamarack Resort with the chairlifts to the summit on the north.
The shack, which has windows on three sides, is decked out with a new heater, microwave, and teapot. The view goes straight up the mountain to where it meets the sky. As a former airline pilot, I like to see the sky. I thought, could this location be more alluring? Speakers were rigged so you could jam to your own music inside and out.
There was a desk, comfy chairs, and just enough room for my two big black Briard dogs to sprawl. The hut is minded by a lone “liftie” or ski lift operator, who assists with the smoother-than-an-airline boarding process. Surrounded by peaceful Mother Nature, this looked to me like the perfect clubhouse for a party of one.
Two types of people choose to engage with the four seasons on a mountainside: those lucky enough to be born in the area and those who, like treasure hunters homing in on a sunken Spanish galleon wrecked off the Florida Keys, search for it. I am in the latter group.
I came to live at Tamarack after retiring and found myself engaging with my new community as a liftie. I figured if homeowners would never guess the liftie is a homeowner, neither would the other lifties. My gig should allow me to witness seasonal resort employment firsthand, boost the number of days I skied, and indulge in the solitude that facilitates writing.
In November 2022, when the resort started making snow and grooming the slopes in anticipation of opening day, I casually mentioned to someone in management, “I’d like to work the poma on Saturdays.” Not long after, I got a letter inviting me to orientation—they’re always light on lifties.