Lift Rebirth

Zack Finger is getting excited. He’s talking about old number 80, the derelict shell of a gondola cabin that he pulled out of the woods from someone’s backyard in Leadville this past summer.

“It was a nightmare, full of beer cans, a toilet and a bunch of other trash,” he says. But when it comes to skiing’s history, it was also a massive find.

The cabin is part of the only gondola ever constructed by the now-defunct ski lift manufacturing company Yann. It hauled skiers up  Keystone from 1982 to 1984 and it’s likely one of only a handful of Yann gondola cabins left on the planet. Finger has big plans for it—as he does for every old lift he comes across. As the founder and sole employee of Last Chair Customs, he’s in love with the rusty, neglected detritus of skiing.

Finger never planned to pursue this obsession as a career, but as a machinist by trade the lifelong skier/snowboarder finally got sick of working in fabrication shops. His plan, born during an evening of partying and bullshitting with friends, was simple: He’d find old chairs and repurpose them for residential use. The Keystone gondola cabin is his latest project. “I’m going to turn it into a wet bar,” he says. “Can you see this hanging in someone’s nice ski home in the mountains? It would be a showpiece.”

Finger repurposes chairs from defunct lifts across the country. They not only make great benches or porch swings but there are plenty to choose from, as evidenced by the loot in his East Boulder shop. His antiques include old wood-slat doubles from several East Coast resorts, one of Beaver Creek’s original Larkspur chairs and an ancient double from Aspen Mountain.

Despite this eclectic collection, Finger isn’t satisfied. “I love dragging old lifts out of fields,” he admits with a laugh.

Tom Winter

Learn more at LastChairCustoms.com and see Zach’s work at @lastchaircustoms on Instagram.

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