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Letters: Lifts going nowhere, Willy Schaeffler, Sugarloaf poster



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Letters: Lifts going nowhere, Willy Schaeffler, Sugarloaf poster

Hang On

Your recent article “Lifts that Went Nowhere” (May-June 2022) reminded me of an uphill lift I experienced in 1959. The nearest big mountain close to my home in upper Austria was the Feuerkogel. Once one took the gondola up the mountain you ended up on some snowfields with several huts. I walked about two hours to the Rieder Hütte, named after the town I lived in. After an overnight stay I toured back. But then I approached a lift that reminds me now of a T-bar. The main difference was its size. There was space for about 10 people, lining up next to each other. In front of us was a wooden beam on the ground attached to a cable. We all grabbed the beam, and after a nervous wait an attendant gave the command: los geht’s! (let’s go!) and off we went, similar to the Roca Jack lift in Portillo, Chile. Whoever was not alert was left behind or was being dragged along for a while. After a few hundred meters travel we reached the top. I assume that beam was then dragged back for the next load of daring skiers. I survived it and am still skiing at the age of 81.

Heino Nowak
Manchester, Vermont

Coach Schaeffler

Celebrating Willy

I would like to add to “The Original Rebel” story (May-June 2022) about Willy Schaeffler. The airbags used around towers and other immovable objects on or near the course of the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbühel are today still called Willy Bags. This came about when Willy was setting the course in 1982. He designed the bags after realizing the tower protection had been hay bales, which could freeze at night,
turning them into cement.

During my nearly 30 years in the ski industry with Roffe Skiwear our paths would cross, and we would dine together. His stories were fascinating. He told me he was in front of a firing squad three times. Your story told of one of them. And he told me he loved pork because Dr. Michael DeBakey, the famous heart surgeon, put a pig valve in his heart.

Shortly before his death, I attended a private celebration of life for him at the Fairmont Hotel in Denver. Many of his past University of Denver and U.S. Ski Team members were there. The last speaker was one of his team members and spoke for all of them. He relayed that Willy would make them run up the stairs of the university grandstand with a fellow team member on their backs. If someone failed to do it, the punishment was sucking a raw egg. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out an egg. “Suck this, Willy,” he shouted. It was a solid gold egg!

Wini Jones
Bainbridge Island, Washington

T-bars, not chairlifts.

T-Bar Timeline

I have a correction to make about the Sugarloaf poster in the “Many Gems at Swann’s” (May-June 2022). Those are all T-bars, not chairlifts on the poster. The poster was created later than 1955. The lower of the tandem T-bars was built in the summer of 1956; the upper T-bar was built the next summer. The lower left T-bar was built later.

Jean Luce
Carrabassett Valley, Maine


The photo of Killington’s customized Skyeship gondola cabin in “Lifts that Went Nowhere” (May-June 2022) was taken by Mark D. Phillips.

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