Taming the T Bar Lift in Breckenridge, Colorado
My brush with Breckenridge’s famous T Bar lift began by mistake. I was trying to meet up with some friends, who texted me “We’re at T Bar.” I looked at the map and headed toward a lift called T Bar, while they were at the base of the mountain sipping beers at the bar named T Bar. Oops.
I looked up at the lift, which is actually a long, barely-there rope tow. At the end of the rope is a bar with room for one person on either side. A big sign warned: EXPERT TERRAIN ONLY. All of the runs from the top are either black diamond or double black diamond. I hung back, daunted, but my ski buddy Rob went in for the sell. “You’re ready for this,” he said. “This is happening.”
Even on a crowded weekend day, there was no line at the T Bar. Makes sense, I thought. People must know better. Rob assured me that it was only because it’s harder for snowboarders to use. Without any waiting time for me to chicken out, we went for it. I shouted a warning to the operator. “This is my first time on a T Bar!”
He laughed. “Just hang on. You’ll be fine!”
Next thing I knew, I was sitting haphazardly against the bar, pointing my skis up the mountain as the line dragged us upward. I clung to the rope, scared stiff. “Feel free to stop whimpering at any time,” Rob commented. Just as I started to relax a little, the ascent got steeper. “Aaaayyyy!” Then it turned a corner. “Eeeeeyyy!” Maybe I was being a bit overly dramatic, but this was hard compared to a chair lift.
A few minutes passed, seeming like hours. The snowboarder in front of us fell off, his rope and bar snapping up from under him. Phew! At least I wasn’t that guy. Yet. Finally, the end was in sight. A wave of relief hit me, followed by a new wave of panic. How do I get off this thing?
After a small ordeal of letting go just a little too late, we were there. The very top of Peak 8! It was treeless, windswept, icy, and nearly abandoned. Normally I’d be nervous about the expert terrain ahead, but not this time. I had just been pulled up a mountain on what looks like a big bungee cord with a little stick at the end of it. I felt like I could take on anything. T Bar lift: conquered. A celebratory beer at the T Bar bar was in order.