Now I haven’t been to a lot of ski resorts, but I do understand there are things you just don’t do. Here are a list of things I saw that obviously CAN happen at Gudauri Ski Resort.
1. As everywhere in Georgia, there are no lines (cues of people standing behind other people waiting for their turn). Usually at other resorts, when people are getting on the lift, there are colored ropes staked out from the lift so people can start lining up at a manageable distance. This is logical, because you have a rough estimate of how long you have to wait, and its fair, because everyone has to wait in the line for an equal amount of time. (I’m speaking of regular skiers. Not rescue patrol or skiers paying for lessons.)
Here it is a free for all. On approach to the lift, you see the mass of humanity pushing in total chaos toward the lifts. Result… shit show. It was inconvenient enough just getting to the first lift. But then having to negotiate THAT before I even got a single run down a slope.
2. Usually you don’t take off your equipment before you get to the lift. This is a rational thought, because usually you must literally ski off the lift. And if you don’t have your skis or snowboard on, the chances that you fall exponentially increase. Doesn’t matter or apply in Georgia.
3. I saw a girl on the lift with her skis on, turned around, propped up on her knees. She was looking directly at me (in the next lift chair back), smoking a cigarette and dancing to her earphones.
4. There are no clear markers for the actual route of the slopes or indicators of their level of difficulty. So you have to just follow and watch the skiers in front of you. If they wipe out, be sure to understand why. Was it an ice patch? Too steep an incline for their comfort? Did they simply go off course? Fortunately there were no trees lining the course. But on the other hand, there were an abundant number of sheer cliffs. And what this also means though, is you can literally ski ANYWHERE. I saw skiers on the backside of a mountain apparently on purpose. How they were going to get back up or to a lift… still don’t know.
5. It is always a bad idea to have random uphill slopes on a course.
6. And lastly, the most underrated but indispensable person at a ski resort is the guide to help determine who goes on the lift next and potentially stop the lift in cases of danger, i.e. fallen skiers. They had one of these people at each lift, but either the skiers didn’t care the role he played, or the guide didn’t understand the role he played.
For example, I saw with my own eyes: Four people prepared to get on the lift. But as it swung around the corner, four other people jumped out of line and sat down in the chair!!!! For a second I thought eight people were going to be sitting on the lift. The original four who were just about to sit in the chair, were fortunately warned by the screams and yells of the guide (and waiting crowd). They just barely jumped out of the way in time. Did the guide stop the lift? Did he make them get off? Nope, he just shook his head and the skiers left behind just shimmied on to the next chair.
Other skiers would be in position to get in a chair, but for some reason, they would side-step and not get on. Then they would wait for a spot to come up with fewer than four people and squeeze into that chair.
7. And it’s usually frowned upon to drink while working, let alone a ski resort. But that doesn’t apply at the ski resorts in Georgia (I doubt anywhere in Georgia). The people issuing the skis… drunk. The people operating the lifts… drunk. The people running and serving in the restaurants at the resort… DEFINITELY drunk.