I was a bit disappointed about skiing in NZ after I went up to Mt Hutt a few weeks ago, but this past weekend I decided to give a club field a try. The decision was made to head up to Broken River. NZ has profit based and non-profit based ski fields, which differ hugely in infrastructure, road access, grooming and atmosphere. I had heard great things about club field skiing, so I went!
The biggest difference I noticed was the lifts. At most of the club fields, you have to attach yourself to a rope tow using a harness and nutcracker. Robyn does a very good job of explaining the ‘nutcracker’
Because the infrastructure at club fields is minimal, the lifts are often a bit of a doozy. Most club fields employ the ‘nutcracker’ rope tow system, which has been known to claim fingers. Basically you wear a harness, attached to which you have a ‘nutcracker’, which is essentially a metal clamp. The lift itself is a rope that spins in a big loop, over a series of terrifying pulleys. You have to stand at the bottom, cling for dear life to the rope while your arms feel like they’re going to fall off. The rope will slide through your hands creating some friction until you’ve got a grip on it. Once you’re up to speed with the lift, you flick your ‘nutcracker’ over the rope, and voila! You’re on. The battle isn’t over once you manage to get on the lift, though – once you’ve successfully clinched the rope with your nutcracker you have to face the pulleys. Your nutcracker clinks against the pulleys at a pretty alarming speed, and there is a risk that in your terror you’ll pull the rope off the pulleys. For one or two pulleys, this is usually not that big a deal, but once you manage to knock off several, you’re essentially being dragged up the hill by a snake-like rope on the ground. Oh, and then there is the forearm burn brought on by clinging to the nutcrackers to prevent them from popping open. It’s a very efficient way to get up the hill, but a pretty stressful experience.
… I am never going to complain about a t-bar ever again. Wowza, I really had a hard time with these lifts!!! I was planning on trying out some ski touring gear, but I spent the majority of the day falling off the rope tow, getting my thumb stuck between the pulleys and the cable (ugh), remembering how to ski, and sitting and moping by the hut.
It’s pretty cool though because the hut on the hill is like a normal backcountry hut. They have a shared kitchen with cooking facilities, communal dishes, a sandwich press, a bbq and even a deep fryer (haha!).
I haven’t skiied since April or May 2012 and I was even having a hard time just remembering how to turn. I hadn’t had that bad of a day in ages!!! Skiing by myself a few times has really made me remember how much better it is to ski with good company. Past skiing buddies and family, I look forward to skiing with you again!
It was a pretty bad day, but whatever it’s ok, that happens.
In other news, I lived with Caireen in my first semester in Fiji, and now she is on TV as Miss Fiji in the Miss World contest.
And also if you’re feeling generous, you can help us raise funds for CureKids by donating here.