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Is Tipping Your Ski Lift Operator A Thing of the Past?

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Is Tipping Your Ski Lift Operator A Thing of the Past?

Written by: Chelsea Pierce

All Photos credit: Chelsea Pierce

I’ve witnessed my boyfriend cry at least three times during our three-year relationship. All three times, the reason was snowboarding. To say my boyfriend is passionate about skiing and snowboarding is an understatement. He’s been boarding the Pacific Northwest for over twenty years now and he absolutely loves it. 

Don't Overlook Your Ski Lift Operator

My boyfriend also has a huge appreciation for his lift operators. Commonly dubbed a "liftie" they are an integral part of ski resort operations and culture. Ski lift operator jobs often don't pay much yet they show up every day and get the job done. To show his appreciation my boyfriend recently handed out a beer to each liftie we passed getting on and off the chairlift. An act of generosity that actually brought him to tears. And he was the one handing out the beers! 


Well, outside of the fact that he had no beers left to drink himself, he was impassioned by the notion that no one seems to be handing out beer or ‘tipping’ lifties anymore. As I mentioned early, a ski lift operator's salary doesn't pay that much (often minimum wage). Giving them a beer or two as a tip would go a long way towards preserving the soul and vibe at ski resorts, something that many believe is dying.

Maintaining the Tradition of Tipping Your Liftie

Almanac Brewing Bunny Hill

So to do his part in maintaining the age-old tradition of tipping your liftie, he tosses a six, twelve, or even twenty-four rack of Pabst Blue Ribbon into his bag and hands them out to ski lift operators throughout the day.

The lifties are more than appreciative of this seemingly generous gesture. There is something to be said about keeping the stoke high and alive during the winter season. So let's pay tribute to the men and women who help you get up the mountain. Here is the vibe of the ski lift operators at five resorts within three hours' driving distance to where my boyfriend and I reside in Boise, Idaho.

Vibing With the Lift Operators From 5 Boise Area Ski Resorts

Bogus Basin Ski Area - Boise County, Idaho

With a whopping thirty-five-minute drive, Bogus is the closest resort to Idaho’s capital city. Their lifties are a bit on the chiller side. They definitely perk up when a beer is offered to them from the lift line. But then again, who wouldn't? 

Soldier Mountain - Camas County, Idaho

Soldier Mountain

Soldier Mountain is a modest resort only two hours from Boise. Their ski lift operators are pretty cool. You can tell they are in it for the skiing. They definitely did not turn down the beer that we offered them. It seemed to break up the monotony of helping people on and off chairlifts safely all day long. 

Brundage Mountain Resort - McCall, Idaho

Broken Horn Brewing

Brundage is a ski resort on the Indy Pass and is around two and a half hours from Boise. Their lifties seemed more on the serious side but that doesn't mean they wouldn't take a free beer or two. They accepted our beer offerings with open arms and appreciative attitudes. 

Tamarack Resort - Tamarack Idaho

Tamarack Resort

Tamarack is also on the Indy Pass and around two hours out from the Boise area. Their lift operators have the most stoke out of any that I mentioned. They groove to whatever music is playing and make a point to engage with everyone getting onto the lifts. It’s hard to believe that the stoke can get any higher, but when offered a beer, these energetic souls make their gratitude heard by everyone in the line. 

Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort - North Powder, Oregon

Starbottle Saloon

Anthony Lakes, an Oregon resort, is only a two-hour drive from the Idaho border. This resort is worth the commute to feel the history of skiing. Their lift operators imbue a classic energy. After a day of handing out beer to their lifties, one of them approached us and even said that they received a twelve-pack of beer from a skier the week prior. This is some proof that the vibe is still alive at this nostalgic resort. 

The  Big Takeaway From Tipping Our Lifties

Bogus Basin

As a newbie to snowboarding, I wondered about this time-honored tradition. I did a little digging and didn’t get too far, but I did discover that giving a beer or tip to a liftie isn’t unheard of. Recently, on the Newschoolers forum, both riders and ski lift operators chimed in on the subject. Mcswizzle even suggested, “#tipyourlifty seriously though give your liftie a buck or a beer or something.

 A Ski lift operator's salary is meager at best, yet they spend all day keeping the stoke high and making sure people are getting on and off chairlifts safely. There is still a small number of people out there that tip their lifties. They give them beers, chocolate and even a granola bar. And, in case anyone is wondering, lifties are not opposed to these kind gestures. SendyMcSendyface from the forum says, “Just bring us beer and we'll be happy.”

So, the next time a liftie is rocking out and shoots you a fist bump in line, it wouldn’t hurt to stroll into the resort bar and purchase a can of beer and give it to they’re of legal drinking age, of course!

Tip Your Liftie Day???

Have you been thinking about having a "Tip Your Liftie Day" to celebrate those hardy souls that stand outside all day serving up the fun?

Anyone else trying to get behind this?”

Let us know in the comment section below if and how you tip your lifties and if you enjoy reading our Ski Resort Life Blog, then don't miss another post. Sign up today! 

Chelsea Pearce

Chelsea Pierce is an aspiring writer with an M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition from Boise State University. In her spare time, she loves to stay active with new outdoor activities such as snowboarding during the winter season and mountain biking in Boise's foothills during the summertime.


1 comment

  • david barrutia

    Great article, never thought about tipping lefties before but I will now.

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