LIFTLINES OR NUTCRACKERS: SOME THOUGHTS ON WHY WE SKI
Nick shares some thoughts on why we ski and keep coming back to our beloved clubfields every season.
Wondering what you’ve got yourself into is common on first arriving at a clubfield, but they’ll quickly grow on you until you can’t consider skiing anywhere else.
There’s always a lot of time for thoughts to spin around in your head when you’re on the skin track, or even sitting on a lift. Over six months away in North America, during a record season I might add, my mind often wandered back to the clubbies. I’d have 4 foot overhead blower powder days, epic backcountry lines to myself, and long classic tree runs. Yet I couldn’t forget about these little fields in New Zealand that get a quarter as much snow, have a season half as long, and often require a tough slog to access. Because every time I latch onto the rope tow I’m reminded of why I’ve made skiing such a big part of my life.
The club fields are the home of the die-hard skier. If you’re in Queenstown for a gap year or an Aussie jetting across the ditch you’ll probably never hear of them. But I honestly hope you do. They’re how you become a life-long skier, someone who takes every weekend off, spends all their money on gear, checks the weather forecast constantly, and won’t drive anything but a muddy truck or beat up Subaru. And with these characteristics you also gain a community.
I’m a newcomer by clubbie standards at a little under four years round these parts, and when I’m around for another ten I’ll still be a youngster. These are places you’re born into, that keep pulling you back for entire lifetimes. And everyone else is on the same wavelength, we’ve all been bitten by the bug and are better for each others company.
For every bit of enjoyment the fields give to their skiers, members give back even more. Every summer there’s maintenance work to be done, and the handymen and women come to the fore. A good mechanic is invaluable as a club member, keeping those old tractor engines ticking over and the tows running. Over winter food needs to be carted in, never a tax when there’s a cold Double Brown waiting for us when it all reaches the lodge. It’s all a trade you see, put in a bit of effort to reap the rewards of getting to keep on coming back to these places!
The season is upon us, and now on a work day my thoughts are bounding to the clubbies. I’m excited to park up and have a powder day with 30 other people instead of 3000, drink beers on the deck at Broken River, hot tub under the stars at Olympus, and peer over into crazy terrain in the Mingha at Temple Basin. There’s something for everyone though, and I’m just as keen to share stories with fathers towing their kids up the rope tow, foreign pros battling with the nutcrackers, and old timers who can tell me how it all started. So if you’re up this season let’s catch up for a beer and a lap, and keep these places ticking over with all of our support!
Title photo: The locals discussing why rope tow are far superior to lifts // by Nick Pascoe
Photo 1: Charlie Murray sampling Olympus finest // by Nick Pascoe
Photo 2: Nick enjoying the world class terrain on offer in the clubfields. // by Mark Bridgwater
Photo 3: The sign of a good day to come. // by Nick Pascoe
Keen to explore the NZ clubfields? Check out the Chill Pass range here.