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"Lift Lines" is a new series from Aspen Public Radio that shares the joys of winter sports, broadcast throughout the week as part of our morning ski report. Reporter Kaya Williams brings her microphone to the chairlifts, gondolas and trails of the Roaring Fork Valley to ask people why they love sliding on snow.

Lift Lines: John Gilmour

Snowboarder John Gilmour rides the Silver Queen Gondola at Aspen Mountain on Jan. 21.
Kaya Williams
Aspen Public Radio
Snowboarder John Gilmour rides the Silver Queen Gondola at Aspen Mountain on Jan. 21. Gilmour doles out shellfish to lift operators on their birthdays in a program he calls “Lobsters for Lifties.”

If you’re a lift operator in Aspen, and you happen to have a birthday during the ski season, you might want to get to know John Gilmour, who used to own a high-performance snowboard company called Madd Snowboards.

“Lifties that have a birthday during ski season, essentially they get no love, … and nothing’s more depressing for a liftie when their friends can’t afford to come here and neither can their parents and they’re working on their birthday.” Gilmour said on the Silver Queen Gondola at Aspen Mountain on Jan. 21. “I just like to brighten up their birthday.”

The snowboarder who splits his time between Aspen and Laguna Beach, California, shows his appreciation through shellfish with a program he calls “Lobsters for Lifties,” doling out hand-caught lobsters to lift operators on their birthdays.

“I scuba dive at night and catch them and I bring a bunch up here and treat the lifties to this delicious split-roasted lobster where I parboil them, and then I put tarragon butter in there and roast it on their barbecues, and they're just stoked,” Gilmour said.

To learn the lifties' birthdays, Gilmour just asks, he said. Anyone who’s “lucky enough” to have a birthday when he’s still in town (Gilmour usually leaves by April) gets their name on his lobster radar.


Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.