How to use the nutcracker and other commentary

This summer, Norwegian crow Lene travelled to Australia and New Zealand with the bastard crow Chris Booth to ski at the bottom of the earth. Here, Chris explains how to use the nutcracker, the lift system used in the community run ski club fields of NZ.

1- You will need to rent your nut cracker from the ticket office at your local club ski field (“Clubby”). The person manning the ticket office at your local Clubby is most probably named either Bryan or Keith. Bryan or Keith are semi-retired and donate their weekends to manning the ticket office in exchange for a free season pass. The nut cracker is a metal contraption with a hinge that, when attached to your harness, allows you to ride the tow ropes at your local Clubby.

Chris Booth

2- It’s also useful to buy a glove cover to avoid tearing your gloves apart when you load the rope. It looks like an oven mitt, costs about 8 bucks, and has the added effect of giving you a proper Clubby appearance.

3- Attach the nutcracker to your harness using a climbing sling or, for a more Clubby approach, a piece of rope. It should be about 20cm long to allow for the right amount of “jam”. This we will get to in a moment.

4- You want to put your glove cover on the hand that is closest to the tow rope.

Chris Booth

5- Now that you’re at the rope tow, you will see two things. The first is how fast it moves. The Second is how the rope moves through a number of big, menacing wheels as your ride up the lift, reading to crunch your fingers.

6- The key to a good ride on the nutcracker is in how well you load it. Keep this in mind and take your time to get it right, if you don’t, just let go of the rope and start aired, will ski by to help you out.

7- With your nutcracker open in your outside hand, stand next to the rope and gently let the rope start to run through your inside (gloved) hand.

8- Gently increase your grip on the rope and you will start to move up hill. Do not just grab the rope because you will probably just pull out your shoulder. Easy easy.

Chris Booth

9- Once you have reached rope speed you have arrived at the critical point – the nutcracker throw.

10- With your nutcracker open in your outside hand, ‘flick’ the device under the rope.

11- With your nut cracker now clamped around the rope, open your outside hand to hold it down in the clamped position.

12- You don’t want to “hold” the nutcracker in place but rather lock your arm against it as leverage to keep it shut.

13- Now let go of the rope with your inside (gloved) hand and let your weight fall back into the harness.

Chris Booth

14- Don’t relax just yet. Now you need to get ready for the flywheels that the rope runs through. Be ready to brush past these wheels very close. Don’t panic though, as long as your body position is right you have nothing to worry about. Ensure you don’t have anything dangle towards the rope, and that the nutcracker is clamped shut and that your hand is holding it at its extremity.

15- As the wheel comes, stay in the track and give the wheel a little body space so you move past comfortably. Breathe easy and relax as you feel the impact of the nutcracker running through the wheel. Do not ski away from the wheel, that will cause the rope to jump off the wheel and destabilize the lift.

16- To alight at the top grab onto the rope with your gloved and, taking your weight for a moment, let the nut cracker open.

17- For proper Clubby effect, you can just ski with the nutracker threaded into your harness, but if you are skiing with a backpack, it’s a good idea to pop it in their instead.


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