Being a Lifty is an extraordinary experience. Coming from being a desk bitch for years, starting work here as a Lifty on Falls Creek nearly broke me.
I have heard many comments about how it must be an easy job, just getting to stand there and greet people all the time. Whilst a lot of the time we are seen to be just standing around, this job is not as easy as it may appear.
Every morning we turn up to each and every top and bottom lift station, typically an hour before the lift opens. When working on the snow, everything must be completely packed up and re set up almost every day, otherwise things become iced over and stuck and/or buried and lost. As soon as us Lifties get to work in the morning we are smashing star pickets in to ice and snow, tying ropes up for que races, shoveling excess snow out of lift stations and sometimes even shoveling snow in to lift stations.
Through our working days, I would like to remind all those non lifty types out there that conditions are more often than not, very unpleasant. It’s very common to be working in rain, hail, heavy wind, snow and white out conditions, and it is always cold.
The first two weeks of my time here at Falls were like being forced to drink cement. The season started with a ‘Boom’. In about one week we went from having no snow to having a base well over a meter deep. Every shift for the first two weeks was almost entirely shoveling. My body became so sore, worn and injured that I could not sleep and had to force myself to just keep slugging.
Once a lift stations set up is complete and I phone the Lift in as operational, the chaos begins. Most lifts here at Falls Creek are very well designed, easy to load and unload and not much goes wrong, but some are mental. The reason some lifts are crazy is not even mostly due to the lift itself but rather the lifts location, subsequent traffic and under experienced riders.
Whilst a lift is operational, besides shoveling and maintaining the lift station, our job is primarily to pay attention and to keep safely getting people on and off the lifts. Every person must be treated as a beginner. Often people line up to get on a chair with the latest and greatest gear yet have never been on snow or used a chairlift. Everyday, on a few lifts in particular here, incidents happen. The parent that insists their child is fine to get on the chair themselves without help, the enormous school groups, the large non english speaking families just riding the lift for the scenery, the people that simply don’t stand up at the unload point, the occasional clown that drops his/her board half way up the lift, the beginners that go up summit and freak out at the top etc etc.
A good Lifty is constantly prepared, with a finger on the slow button, and another on the stop button. A good Lifty has eyes on every single customer and is ready to lift, push, pull and occasionally even drag people to wherever they need to be to ensure that no one gets injured and that people can safely continue to load and unload the chairs.
Being a Lifty is amazing, but be prepared to have nature test you.
For anyone looking to get seriously fit, have an active social life and to save some cash at the same time, do a snow season at a Victorian resort. You will also leave as a pro on the snow.