Ever been on a chairlift and looked down to see a solitary glove or ski pole? That might soon be a thing of the past. Crystal Ski Holidays can exclusively reveal today that resorts across the Alps are secretly hiring “slope sweepers” to collect valuables dropped from lifts. As skiers and snowboarders bring more gadgets with them on holiday and spend more time snapping selfies, a group named FOOL (Foundation for Oops, Ouches and Lost Property) have estimated skiers are dropping up to 40% more items from chairlifts than they did four years ago.
The job of the new slope sweepers is to mop up the mess and keep pistes from looking like gadget graveyards.
“Sometimes I look down when I’m on the chairlift and it looks like the aftermath of your so-called Glastonbury Festival” said Pierre Vacances, CEO of French resort Val Posèur, “but the sweepers are restoring the natural beauty to my mountains”.
What many resorts don’t know however, is that these sweepers are making a mint selling the gadgets and gear on the side. We caught up with a “piste balayeuse” called Alan (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) who’s made so much cash, he’s retiring next month at the grand old age of 30.
“Fundamentally what I’m doing is taking advantage of clumsy people” explained Alan in between gulps of champagne, “so why shouldn’t I make a few Francs out of it?” Doubling down defiantly, he argued: “It’s not immoral to keep a tenner someone has dropped in the street, and a £600 iPhone dropped from a chairlift is literally no different at all. To-may-to, to-mah-to.”
When pushed, Alan revealed that in the course of a single ski season he had ‘salvaged’ the following:
- Over a thousand iPhones.
- 400 GoPros of varying vintages.
- Over £10,000 worth of miscellaneous ski gear.
- A diamond-crusted tiara which, upon professional inspection was found to be a long-lost trinket belonging to a 15th century French princess.
- And an antique Fabergé egg worth just shy of £5.7million.
While Alan struggled to chomp down caviar-topped canapés with his new gold teeth, we asked him to name some of the weirdest things he’s collected.
“Other than the usual selfie sticks, phones and gloves, I’ve had to pick up all sorts. Hip flasks, Santa hats, cameras; even a flute once. In fact the best one” guffawed Alan, lounging in his brand new carbon fibre hot tub, “was a mankini, like Borat wore. Which implies someone was either just carrying one around for a laugh, or stripped out of it while on a chairlift, which is even more impressive.”
Of course selfie culture has rocketed in recent years. A recent study by Teen Vogue estimated millennials spend at least an hour a day taking and uploading selfies, with Alan suggesting this is the primary cause of his income.
“These people think they can sit on a wobbly chair going at speed, and then try to operate a camera with one hand that’s probably numb from the cold. Fools, the lot of them.”