"...so Bill goes left, I go right and I hear this little yelp. I look back and Bill's, like, totally gone — there's just a pair of legs sticking out of the snow."
"Ha! What happened to his skis?"
"Got hooked on something and he double ejected, flew over the knoll head-first into the pow."
"Whoah! Did he find his skis?"
"No idea," the young skier told his female friend. "I watched him claw his way out and then I was like, 'later dude!' and skied out. He's probably still out there now, cursing my name! We should probably go back there next run to see if he's still there."
"No way! No friends on a powder day, right? We'll see him at lunch."
The two young skiers were hunched together on the left side of the chairlift, closest to the towers. Beside them was an older man, whistling softly to himself as he tapped his pole on his ski boot. On the inside seat was a snowboarder nearing middle age.
The four rode in silence for a little while.
The older man cleared his throat and broke the silence.
"Heard the highway is closed today."
"Really?" asked the girl.
"Best day ever," raved her friend. "Forty fresh, the alpine is open and the highway is closed... I'm so showing up late to work today."
"Light's pretty flat though. We should probably stick to the trees.."
"Maybe. It's not that busy, maybe we could hit Outer Limits and the burn first."
The middle-aged snowboarder leaned forward a little on the chairlift and pushed his chin deeper into the collar of his shell. Tiny flecks of ice in the wind stabbed at his cheeks like pins and needles, while small chunks of ice built up on his beard. The younger skiers seemed completely oblivious to the weather — one of them was wearing some kind of a hockey jersey and the other only had a light jacket. They were both wearing twin tips. Parks rats, he said to himself.
"Is this chair moving slowly or what?" he asked out loud.
"Too windy," said the older man. "When wind gets over 40 knots, this chair slows down to a crawl. Huh... The snow's nice but you can't see anything up here. Shoulda stuck to the lower mountain."
Just then the four were hit with a powerful gust of wind that knocked them all backwards into their seats, and pinned them there for a long moment — long enough to scare them all pretty badly. And then it went suddenly calm.
Visibility was already bad, but when they dared open their eyes again they found that they were enveloped by thick fog. They couldn't see much past the chairlift cable overhead, or even tell if they were still moving or not. They listened for the familiar rattle of tower wheels but heard nothing.