There’s one thing about going to work every day on a chairlift, which is how you do it if you cover skiing or sliding sports around here.
You either don’t do it or you get over your fear of heights.
In less than two weeks, I have gone from a nervous passenger, gripping the safety bar with both hands and never looking down, to talking on the phone, pointing and waving, that kind of thing. If I saw a bear I might throw gum at it.
But Monday I tried the ultimate fear-of-heights test, this sensational engineering marvel known as the Peak2Peak, the world’s longest gondola ride, stretching mountain to mountain, from Whistler to Blackcomb or, if you’re coming from the other direction, from Blackcomb to Whistler.
Well. What a ride. Views more breathtaking that you can imagine. Thousands of skiers and snowboarders baking in the sun on one side and, 2.73 miles away across the valley, thousands of skiers and snowboarders baking in the sun on the other side.
It takes 11 or 12 minutes to get across in big, comfortable mostly glass-sided gondolas that seat 22 (so the sign says) and accommodate six more standees. That’s a lot of people, plus ski poles and skis and helmets – and one guy was apparently skiing in a Cleveland Indians batting helmet and who ever figured you could meet Chief Wahoo up here?
At the middle of the ride, even with the steel cables sagging what look like a couple of hundred feet, because the two support towers are 1.88 miles apart, the distance above the little creek in the bottom of the valley is 1,427 feet, according to the signs.
You can look straight down from some of the cars – two of the 28 have glass floors, for which you can line up separately – and that’s the acid test if you have the height heebie-jeebies.
But no. Not one short breath. And no bears to throw things at.
If you ever get out here, take the ride. It’s unforgettable.