Ski lift to save lives of hill victims

The recently approved project will lift students’ spirits and ease calf aches this upcoming fall semester

More stories from Sam Farley


A proposal for the installment of a ski lift on the infamous hill connecting upper and lower campus at UW-Eau Claire received overwhelming support by board members and students alike; it was approved around 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24.

Alumna Jaquelyn Frost donated the $5 million needed to kick-start the project. Frost, a 2007 graduate, said she made a promise to herself to make the hill a safer place after a traumatic incident in 2003.

“It was late, I was coming back from my Monday night chemistry lab. About halfway up the hill my calf started cramping up and I nearly cried out in pain,” Frost said.

Her physical recovery was quick, but she is still healing emotionally, she said.

Frost’s donation will set the plan in motion, a move which involves the construction of a ski lift that will form a loop to bring students both up and down the hill.

The exit and entry points of the lift will be stationed in the area between Horan Hall and the Hilltop Center at the top of the hill and near the Putnam Parking Lot at the bottom.

The proposal indicates a single lift chair will carry up to six passengers at a time and will bring students up or down the hill in less than two minutes.

This improvement is intended to save students both time and breath, said Frost.

According to head nurse Bill Poppin at Crest Wellness Center, the hill is a dangerous threat to physical health and all attempts to scale the beast should be discontinued.

“The incline is too steep; it’s only a matter of time before someone has a heart attack” Poppin said.

A survey by Crest concluded that 96 percent of patients have experienced hill-related injuries over the past three months, with the majority of incidents occurring after winter break.

Poppin said climbers are no match for the hill after four weeks of exposure to home-cooked meals and even terrain.

Chancellor James C. Schmidt said the lift will not only remove the threat to student health, but it will also be a huge attraction—instead of a turnoff— for incoming students.

“Day after day you see kids trekking up the hill, weighed down by backpacks bulging with textbooks and stress,” he said. “We can’t continue to scar our visitors with images like that anymore.”

According to the project’s board members, the lift will provide students with more on-campus jobs, as workers will be needed to assist with the loading and unloading of passengers.

The six seater chairs will also enable riders to interact with new people and possibly form new friendships.

“That’s the ‘power of and’ at work — creating jobs AND friendships,” Schmidt said.

Although predictions for the lift’s performance cannot be known for sure, the support for the project has been made certain on campus.

Blugolds from all areas of residence celebrated this improvement in student health by letting loose; many reported cancelling gym memberships and doubling their intake at the Davies Marketplace.

Others showed their support by wearing ski boots and goggles to class.

Indeed, the university community looks forward to being able to travel to upper campus without the fear of collapsing — a carefree ascent that many Blugolds have dreamt of for years.

In other news, Student Senate member Tate R. Tot said a proposal for a zipline across the bridge is currently in the works.