Friday, December 29, 2006

Lazy travel writing


CNN is featuring a piece about Alta ski resort on its home page. In a single two-sentence paragraph, the writer, Sara Kugler, manages to make at least four mistakes.

"We felt a tug of nostalgia as we inched up the mountain on the main chair lift, which was then a slow-moving double-seater that felt very 1970s and took nearly 20 minutes to reach the top. The trip takes you from a base of about 8,350 feet above sea level to about 10,400. Alta's highest point is 10,550."

Kugler is almost certainly describing the Wildcat lift here, but she has created a composite of two lifts and mangled details of both lifts.

First mistake: Alta's base is 8,530' not 8,350'.
Second mistake: The Wildcat lift takes skiers to 9,780' not 10,400'.
Third mistake: "Nearly twenty minutes" is more like 35% less than twenty minutes, or otherwise known as 13 minutes.
Fourth mistake: she calls this Alta's "main chair lift" which is subjective at best, and arbitrary and/or incorrect at worst.

Alta has since opened a new lift, which now takes skiers from the base to 10,400 feet, and Kugler does, to her credit, point this out (although she says this lift replaced the old lift which is not true if she was writing about the Wildcat lift).

What Kugler has done is morphed the Wildcat and Germania lifts into a composite lift, which she decribes as a double chair lift going from base to 10,400 feet. The reality is she really rode the double-seater Wildcat then skied down to the triple-seater Germania lift.

In her defense, her mind-created composite lift does now in fact exist at Alta, but it did not when she skied there, so it would be easy to look at a current trail map, online even, and combine that with a fuzzy memory and spit out some lazy, inaccurate, obsolete travelogue without much effort or thought.

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