Sitting on History: Brooks Chair Run

Words by Chris Zimmerman
Photos by Chris Zimmerman

I’ve spent a lot of time on chairlifts over the last 20 years. Dangling above the earth, suspended between lift towers, moving slowly uphill through sunshine, blizzards and rain—it’s a pretty relaxing way to get to the top of the next run. Chair rides are the perfect time for conversation, jokes or just a moment of silence, bundled up against the wind and snow. I’ve also shared a lot of time riding chairlifts with my wife during some of the most memorable days we’ve spent snowboarding. Needless to say, we have many memories tied to our time sitting on a chairlift.

 

 

Originally installed in 1968 and named after a former general manager, Stevens Pass’ Brooks Chair is a slow, fixed-grip double chair that takes riders to the top of the terrain park and also to some of my favorite groomed runs. While it doesn’t access the most extreme terrain, and is certainly not the fastest chair at a place with high-speed quads, the Brooks chair was always a slower paced way to spend a day, and rarely had a line—even on the busiest days.

When I heard the mountain was replacing the aging Brooks and Daisy chairs with modern 4-packs and selling the old chairs off, I knew I needed to jump on it. For a $300, with 100% of the proceeds going to Upper Valley MEND, Outdoors for All and the EpicPromise Employee Foundation, you could take a chair home. The waitlist for chairs started at 9am sharp. I was ready. Good thing, too, because the chairs sold out in less than one minute, raising $54,000 for a good cause in the process. Now all we had to do was go pick it up and bring it home.

 

 

I’ve driven the route to Stevens Pass countless times over the years, to the point where I can almost drive it blindfolded, but this would be the first time our 9-month daughter would be making her first (of many) trips to the mountain. In kind of a fitting twist, her first experience at the mountain is a time when we are bringing home a piece of it with us. The fact that the year’s first snow arrived the day before we headed up just added to the overall experience. A good way to get excited for the season.

 

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As we made our way up the pass, we began seeing trucks and SUVs pulling trailers heading back down the mountain with their steel bounty. Once we reached the pass, got in the queue with other chair-hunters and checked in, we waited for our turn to load up our chair. As we waited in line, parked next to machinery and pallets of parts for the two new chairs, I thought about how many memories I’ve made at Stevens Pass and how much has changed over the years.

I also thought about how excited I am to create a whole new set of memories with my family. Through new ownership, mountain upgrades, tragedies and a new set of locals (except Shaefer) change is inevitable, but the memories remain. I’m glad I’ll be able to join the ranks of cabin owners, memorabilia collectors and I assume nearly every skier in Colorado, and hang onto a piece of the past with a chair in my own backyard.

 

 

Eventually I’ll figure out where to put it and how to hang it, but opportunities to own a piece of mountain history like this are usually few and far between. And to get a chair that we actually have memories tied to is even more rare. But I am planning on re-painting the chair to the classic robin’s egg blue I remember.

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