Thursday, January 20, 2011


Get ready for a story of coincidences, insomnia, terror on the slopes and horrible cinema here on the blog today folks.  One of my new year's resolutions for 2011 was to start a new category here on the blog where I review obscure films that I find in the wee hour of the morning to stream on Netflix.  I must apologize for getting, oh, just three weeks behind on this new endeavor but I am back with a vengeance today.

The stars aligned for me in the wee hours of the morning as I was tossing and turning in bed and decided to lift up the lid on my laptop and stream some Netflix to soothe me to sleep.  Normally all it takes is some Masterpiece Theater to send me off into a deep slumber.  But I was intrigued by the first movie that popped up as a suggestion.  It was "Frozen", a 2010 release from Anchor Bay Films that had the following synopsis:

"Three friends hit the slopes for a weekend of skiing and snowboarding. But when they convince the chairlift operator to let them take one last run before closing, Parker (Emma Bell), Joe (Shawn Ashmore) and Dan (Kevin Zegers) find themselves stranded in midair, alone and freezing. It'll be days before anyone returns to the slopes, and their chances of survival are looking slimmer by the minute. Adam Green directs this taut thriller."

I couldn't resist.  I had to watch it because in a strange coincidence I myself was stuck on a ski lift at Mt. High when the operator shut it down for the weekend with me still on it at the top of the mountain.   This all happened on January 20th, 2008...three years ago to the day!

Proof that it was in fact three years ago today!  I still have the tags on my winter sad is that.

Anyway, first the review of the film, followed by my story.  In the movie three friends (two guys and a girl) decide they want to get one last run in at the idyllic New England ski resort before it closes down for the day.  They bribe the ski lift attendant and get on the last chair of the day only to find that the chair lift shuts down half way up the mountain.  The lights turn off.  The sun sets.  The ominous music begins to play.  I believe that this movie was trying to do for ski resorts what "Open Water" did for scuba diving imagining the worst case scenario results of human error and negligence and terrifying prospective vacationers to the point that they never want to leave their house again and instead choose to stay home playing Guitar Hero on their two weeks off during the year.  As one might expect one of the friends (the archetypal impatient guy) decides to jump the 50 feet down to the snow below and go get help.  He jumps and breaks his legs and then is devoured by wolves...typical.  Then the girl starts screaming and has to be slapped back to reality by her boyfriend who then decides to use the cables holding the chair lifts like a zip line and cruise down the mountain to safety.  His plan fails.  He also ges eaten by wolves...typical.  The girl falls asleep in the chair and wakes up frostbitten and stuck to the metal safety bar and then jumps, breaking her ankle and hobbling towards civilization.  The movie ends with only the female surviving and getting picked up by a passing car on the I said before...typical.

I have to be honest...I had a really hard time not rolling my eyes all the way through this movie.  And I felt like I was qualified to roll my eyes as much as I wanted because I was in these three character's same position once, except rather than being stuck on the chair lift with the two guys...I was stuck by myself...oh and not to spoil the ending but I didn't get eaten by wolves.

Here's what did good friends Roberto and Santiago were cool enough to take me snowboarding at Mt. High for the first time in my life and teach me how not to fall on my ass.  Apparently they either weren't very good teachers or I wasn't a very good pupil since after three and a half hours of practice I still hadn't managed to stay upright for more than five seconds.  However, they felt I was advancing fast enough to leave the bunny slope behind and ride the ski lift to the top of the mountain.

The idea of riding the ski lift is just about the most unpleasant thing I can imagine because I am deathly afraid of heights and unstable hanging from a rusty bench fifty to a hundred feet above hard packed snow isn't exactly my idea of a good time.  But I refused to submit to my fears and waste the good money spent on a four hour lift ticket.  So I marched myself up to ski lift, got in line and hopped on.

Once at the top of the mountain Santiago and Roberto tried to teach me how to stay upright once more but it was proving fruitless.  Me astride the snowboard was just not meant to be.  After a few more tries I managed to stay upright for about thirteen seconds only to careen out of control and fall flat on my back on a rock.  I didn't realize it at the time but a few days later an x-ray would reveal that I had broken my  coccyx (also known as the tailbone) in that fall.  So I literally did break my ass snowboarding...go figure.

Just in case you are not familiar with the tailbone and/or where it is...

Santiago was convinced I could make it down the mountain...Roberto was not.  Looking at the setting sun and me massaging my broken ass Roberto thought that perhaps I might do better to catch a ride down the mountain on the ski lift.  Just as he made this suggestion Ashton Kutcher's identical twin brother came swooshing by in his Snow Patrol uniform and said that the ski lift was shutting down soon and I should get on it.  The decision wasn't hard...I bid adieu to my snowboarding buddies and trudged back up the hill to catch the ski lift as I watch Robert and Santiago gracefully zoom down the slopes.

For reference is a map of the resort with places of interest...such as where I broke my ass...are marked for your convenience

I jumped on the first chair that went by and pulled the safety bar down and decided to take my mind of off my aching body by enjoying the gorgeous sunset over the San Bernardino Mountains.  It was beautiful and tranquil and I felt like I was at the top of the world...primarily because in terms of vertical elevation, I kind of was.  But about three minutes into my ride down the mountain the ski lift came to an  abrupt stop.  I didn't think much about it as ski lifts often stop and start up again so that the operators can assist skiers getting on and off.  So I just decided to lean back and look at the beautiful scenery...which looked a little like this...only darker.

Of course when I heard a loud noise that sounded like a cross between a "thunk" and a "switch" and that sound effect they use on Law & Order in between scenes and all of the overhead flood lights illuminating the mountain went out I started to get a little concerned.  Plus in the distance I could see the engine house where the machine that powered the ski lift was located and I saw what appeared to be an ant sized person walk out of the building and lock a door behind him.  It was at this point that the thought, "Oh crap..." crossed my mind.

I yelled out in the direction of the engine house but it was useless.  The sun was almost completely below the horizon at this point and the temperature was dropping fast.  Between my fear of heights and wet clothes (word to the wise...don't try to make your yoga pants work as snow pants because you are cheap) and my broken ass I was quickly realizing I needed to get down and fast.  Though I guarantee you that at no point was there any panicking going on.  I calmly removed my cell phone from my jacket and attempted to dial my friends for help....there was just one service!

Okay, so I couldn't yell for help and I couldn't call for perhaps I would just have to jump.  I looked down and considered the pros and cons of this scenario...a fifty foot drop and then a trek through the snow versus sitting on a frozen metal bench dangling in the night air in wet clothes in below freezing temperatures.  Whether it was rational or not, jumping seemed like the better of the two.

I carefully removed the snowboard that was still buckled to my feet and set it on the seat next to me.  Then I attempted to lift the safety bar...but it was latched into place.  This plan was losing steam almost as fast as I was losing body heat.

Two and a half hours later...

Curled up in the fetal position trying to stay warm I kept looking down on the abandoned resort below looking for signs of life.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw two little figures pointing up in my direction. I tried calling out to them but they didn't seem to hear me so I waved my hands in the air hoping they might see the movement and go and get help.  Sure enough it worked.  Two little figured who I assumed were Robert and Santiago ran off and reappeared a short time later with some other little figures in tow who ran towards the ski lift's engine house.

As I approached the base of the ski lift Santiago managed to capture this image of me ...I diagrammed it for you.

Apparently it takes about a half an hour to warm a ski lift up after its been shut down for the night.  I was beginning to worry that they had found me and then just gone, "Oh hey we found her...okay let's take off."  Luckily for me, they didn't.  Thirty minutes later the chair lift started moving again and I started to slowly make my way towards the base of the mountain.  Unfortunately the threads on seat of my pants had frozen to the chair so I was going to have to be peeled off of the thing.

It was about at this point on the way down the mountain I realized I was going to need to be peeled off of the chair lift as my ass has literally frozen to it.

Once at the bottom of the mountain the ski patrol gave me the once over and Damaris Cand, the senior most person working at the resort at that hour was standing by with season passes and a whole lot of apologies.  Santiago, who is conveniently a big strapping ex-military man, peeled me off of the chair lift and helped me back to the resort and Roberto, who is conveniently a doctor and owns a car with seat warmers checked out my frozen hands and drove me home with the heater on full blast. 

Okay, so this was a long way of explaining why exactly I am uniquely qualified to critique the film "Frozen" and give it a thumbs down...being stuck on a ski lift blows...but its not thaaaat bad.  Actually the worst part of this whole ordeal came a few days later in yoga class when I attempted to roll backwards into a shoulder stand a felt the full effect of a broken coccyx.  The next morning I went to the doctor and got to see an x-ray of my pelvis...sorry deserved better.  


Julie said...

hahaaha.... (ok. i tried not to laugh while reading this but it's a completely laughable situation, especially only because you are still alive and able to laugh with me).whew! Curse you snow! and curse the ground that broke your coccyx!

Whitny said...

No it is totally laughable...I mean if I had broken my arm then it would have lost its comedic value but the fact that I broke my ass...pure humor!