Featured Homage to the Fixed-Grip Chair

Discussion in 'General Skiing' started by FairToMiddlin, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. FairToMiddlin

    FairToMiddlin comedy relief Pugski Ski Tester

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    IMG_1793.JPG

    It’s tough to do a tribute to an existing thing, a current workhorse. Yes, we can lump fixed-grip chairs together with skinny skis, 8-tracks, my Dad’s ’64 Ford Galaxy, any number of old-tech memories. But while a lot of the things that moved or fueled our past don’t shine as brightly when we revisit them in our present, the "old" chair is still giving us a less expensive* ride up the mountain, to do what we love do down the mountain, and keeping the trail less crowded besides. This yesteryear tech has useable unintended consequences like these (it can even act as a filter, keeping instant-gratificationers away from the terrain to which it delivers us).

    My legs are a little older now, they don’t mind a slower ride to rest before the next run: my two best powder days last year were at fixed-grip gems Wolf Creek and Sunlight. I don’t remember any of us, on either day, regretting the chairs we rode, and lamenting what could have been had there only been a high-speed quad.

    Fixed Chair 3.jpg

    I am in no way pooh-poohing the high-speed chair. The more vert a chair has to cover, the more valuable it becomes. It also shortens time spent in the lift line and transports us to The Good Stuff zones faster: A-Basin has a great thing going with Black Mountain Express, it gets us up and away from the parking lot, and out to great terrain adequately served by slower lifts -- including our feet, if we are game for some hike-to.

    But emptying out the lift corral quicker has its own unintended consequences: higher population density on the hill, and the aggravation and danger that accompany lots of folks pouring out onto the same space before the upgrade. That same clever BME lift can make for a busy day if you are a patroller at A-Basin, as you clear the carnage from Sundance, High Noon, and Ramrod!

    Using my gut-feel-o-meter, it seems that chairs covering up to 1500ish feet of vert don’t really suffer if they are left as a one-speed.

    Hmmm, perhaps this isn’t really an homage after all, nor is it a Luddite cry to “bring back the Model T!" -- maybe more like a reality check...

    IMG_8605.JPG

    *The price of skiing will always go up; I have no data to lean on, but keeping places like Loveland, A-Basin (for the most part), Sunlight, Wolf Creek (mostly) on the slow and steady must help stall day ticket prices to under three digits, compared to the cost and complexity of modernizing.
     
  2. njdiver85

    njdiver85 Booting up Skier

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    In the Northeast, whenever we get an overnight icing, or if the winds are really blowing, it's the fixed grips that get us up the mountain while the fancy high-speed detachables are all standing still.
     
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  3. Core2

    Core2 Out on the slopes Skier

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    I like the slow old chairs just as much as the fast new detachable but for very different reasons. To ride either type of conveyance through a place that only 100 years ago would've been inaccessible to humans during winter is something I will always appreciate about skiing.
     
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  4. skibob

    skibob Out on the slopes Skier

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    I take your point. But loading fixies is the problem. Not for me, but for my now 7yr old, who still needs a bit of a boost to chair height.
     
  5. crgildart

    crgildart Gravity Slave Skier

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    A high speed chair does NOT shorten time in the lift line on a busy day. It actually makes the time you stand at the bottom LONGER when you could be sitting on a slower moving chair. Two quad chairs side by side, one detachable and one fixed grip move the same number of skiers up at roughly the same load and unload rates.. but the detachable has fewer chairs, spaced farther apart, moving up faster, shorter ride. Fixed grip has more chairs on the cable, i.e. more people sitting down where the detachable has fewer chairs for people to sit in and more people stacked up at the bullwheel waiting for fewer, but faster moving chairs.

    Now, on a not so busy day the detachable will get you a LOT more laps in a shorter amount of time. But when there is a line backed up, the only detachable that is faster are the ones with more seats on each chair.

    I'd rather sit on a slow chair riding up than stand at the bottom in a packed corral waiting for a faster chair.
     


  6. jmeb

    jmeb Stereotypical Front Range Weekend Warrior Skier

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    :thumb::thumb:

    I like a high speed lift every once in a while for groomer-focused days. But prefer fixed-grips most of the time: for snow quality preservation, for more time to eat a sammie on the lift, share a beer and spend time sitting down on the chair vs standing in line.

    Luckily most people don't share my disposition, which turns them off from my home hill which is all fixed grips with no plans to go detachable.
     
  7. Jed Peters

    Jed Peters World's Most "Okayest" Skier Skier

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    I like fixed grip chairs for all the reasons stated above.

    And, because it gives my poor legs a break!
     
  8. markojp

    markojp mtn rep for the gear on my feet Industry Insider Instructor

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    Two of our newest three lifts are fixed gripped doubles, the third a high speed fixed grip quad with a loading carpet at the bottom... still not as fast as a detachable though. The doubles seem very appropriate to the terrain and traffic.
     
  9. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Thanks for taking the time to pay tribute. This topic makes me feel like we're chatting about an old friend that we get to visit quite frequently.
     
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  10. Don in Morrison

    Don in Morrison Morrison Claystone Skier

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    Looking Glass at WP comes to mind.
     
  11. Lorenzzo

    Lorenzzo Snow Skier Skier

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    I thought my relationship with the fixed grip had pretty much come to an end. But now I've bought an Alta pass for the coming season. I'll mostly be breaking away from DV on powder or near powder days. FTM's powder preservation observation is on point.
     
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  12. Jilly

    Jilly Lead Cougar Skier

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    We still have a fixed grip triple at Tremblant. I hope they never replace the Lowel-Thomas chair. It ALWAYS runs, when others don't!
     
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  13. SShore

    SShore Getting on the lift Skier

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    All of Monarch's lifts are fixed grip lifts and I like it that way. There usually are no lift lines to speak of and the vertical isn't that great, so high speed lifts wouldn't gain you much other than more expensive lift tickets. Heck, my legs are usually jello by early afternoon anyway, all high speed lifts would do is make them jello by lunch.
     
  14. crgildart

    crgildart Gravity Slave Skier

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    If I wanted to zip up the hill quicker and have shorter, faster moving lines I'd be lobbying to bring back rope tows.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. skibob

    skibob Out on the slopes Skier

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    First skiing experience ever was tow rope as a kid. If somebody posted a video of that, I'd have to hide under a rock the rest of my life.
     
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  16. fullStack

    fullStack derp derp derp.... Skier

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    I'm guessing you are referring to Quicksilver? If so we (family of four) never liked the way that loaded, seemed like we were always readjusting to try and get back in a straight line before the chair arrived.
     
  17. Lorenzzo

    Lorenzzo Snow Skier Skier

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    You mean you don't actually sit down on a T-Bar?
     
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  18. markojp

    markojp mtn rep for the gear on my feet Industry Insider Instructor

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    Night skiing and high school chairlift romance... :)
     
  19. skibob

    skibob Out on the slopes Skier

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    T-bars are a whole other beast :crash:

    I mean a tow rope!

    [​IMG]

    Damn hard on gloves too!
     
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  20. markojp

    markojp mtn rep for the gear on my feet Industry Insider Instructor

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    It does take some getting used to, but way better than the old lift, no?
     

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