Posted by: Talie Morrison | July 22, 2010

Skiing in July

Now I know it really is winter down here in July!   Even though, as I said before, the grass is staying green down here in Christchurch.   But “There is snow in them there hills!”   I have certainly “seen” snow in July in Crested Butte, but this is the first time I have been able to ski in July.   But let me warn you, it wasn’t “pretty”!

My friend, Annie, connected me with some of her Kiwi friends who are part of the Broken River Ski Club.   A “ski club” down here is definitely different than any ski club I have ever belonged to in the states!   Ski Clubs down here actually build and run their own ski fields!   It is pretty amazing – and with the way some of the ski resorts back home are doing – maybe we should take a lesson from them!

So Broken River is up in the range of mountains near Arthur’s Pass.   It is about an hour and a half drive from Christchurch.  Friday,  I had gone downtown and rented (“hired” they call it down here) some Telemark skis and boots.    John, Annie’s friend,  picked me up at 8 am on Saturday morning and we drove up into the mountains.   The paved (they call them “tar sealed”) roads were clear, but when we turned off onto the gravel road there was snow and ice on it.   I was glad I didn’t try to drive my beautiful Yanqui Girl van up here!   We finally got to a small parking lot next to a “passenger carrier”

The first ride up - Yikes!

which carried about 5 or 6 people and their gear and went STRAIGHT up the hill!   Well at least we didn’t have to walk up which used to be the case a couple of years ago.  At the top of this “finicular”, we still had about a 5 minute walk to get to where we could change into our ski gear.   But once we were geared up,  we had another 200+ steps to get up to the first rope tow.   When I bought my lift ticket, I also got a “nut cracker”  – Ok, now quit laughing!   A “nut cracker” down here is a two-part hinged piece of metal which is attached to a belt type harness.   You put the harness around your hips – grab (slowly) the rope tow, and once you are moving, you swing the nut cracker around the rope and hold on tight!   The nut cracker grabs the rope and you are pulled up the tow leaning into your harness (and, at least for me, holding on for dear life).   (I didn’t get a picture of a nut cracker , but you can see a video of it at:

I was soon to learn that in club skiing in New Zealand there is NO warmup available!   You are immediately up on top of a pretty steep slope!   (At least if you have been able to figure out this rope tow and nut cracker deal!)    Ok – so now here I am – I’ve survived the ride up and am standing there with “new” rental skis and rental boots.   Yikes – these don’t act like my gear back home.   On top of that, they don’t rent ski poles, so I am using my hiking poles from the summer.   Well, I think I am a “decent” tele skier – these should not be too big of obstacles to me!   Well, think again, Talie!   I am flailing down this first slope.   Did I totally forget how to ski?   My quads are shaking!   I haven’t even skied down and my legs are already toast!   Yikes!  (Now, wait, what have all these 3 days a week at the gym been for?)  Well with several skid outs and falls, I make it down to the “day lodge”.   I take off my skis and go in for a cup of tea!  Whew!   Maybe, I’ll at least wait till the sun comes out.

After about 4 cups of tea….  Ok, the sun is out and I don’t have a legit excuse to sit in the lodge any longer.   After all, I didn’t pay all this money for skis and lift ticket, to sit and drink tea!   So I find a “transverse” tow rope to practice on – it is a little more managable – and after about 10 practice runs, I get the hang of it.   Ok – I’m ready for the big girl’s tow rope!   After about 4 tries, I finally hook onto the tow and up I go!   As I get to the top, I go past the group standing there, and pop my nut cracker off the tow rope.   I promptly FALL ON MY HEAD!  Yikes again!   “How to win friends and influence people” 101!   🙂   By now, I just had to laugh!   Now here I am at the top of the area – only one way down.

Looking down on the day lodge

I end up taking about 5 runs up and down this slope (it’s steep, but the rest are even steeper!)   And as the sun goes behind the hill, the snow conditions turn a “bit crispy”.   I have enough trouble with this gear without throwing ice into the mix.   So it’s back to the day lodge for me!     I spend the rest of the afternoon meeting lots of great Kiwi skiers and lovely people!   I don’t want to put a “per run price” on what I did today – it would be really sad!   I wait till John has had his fill of skiing for the day and we are some of the last to ski down from the day lodge.   Even this is a challenge for me – it is totally icy now, and there is no “gentle” about these hills!   But, life is good, and at least I don’t hurt myself!   Bottom line – I had a great day, met a lot of wonderful people, can now say I have skied (I guess I can call it skiing) in July, and the views from up at Broken River were awesome!  And as Annie says, “It gives new meaning to ‘Earning your turns!’ ”

(So, I refuse to use excuses for my terrible skiing – but I will say that when I returned my gear to the ski shop, they said the boots that I had been using were “Men’s Racing Tele Boots” – so maybe that was why my legs were so shaky?)  Whatever….. 🙂

Here are more photos  – I can’t take credit for them though,   they are all from from the Broken River web site (

All this stuff has been built over the years by volunteer club members!

That's from the top - NO that is NOT me! 🙂

I can WISH that was me!



  1. hi talie!
    oh my goodness! you are so amazing!
    i would still be at the top of that first run scared to death!
    🙂 you are fabulous!

  2. Great stuff!

  3. you are my hero Talie 🙂

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