My heart was tingling with eager anticipation, all along the beautiful journey on the Bruce Road which took us right up to the Whakapapa ski field. It was certainly an exciting feeling, to be able to ski on the slopes of one of the world’s most active volcanoes. (There are posters in the toilet telling you what to do and evacuation plans in the event of an eruption and you are caught in the middle of the slopes.)
Whakapapa is also the largest ski field in New Zealand, Turoa the second, both located on the same mountain, one on the northern slopes and the other on the southern slopes of Mt Ruapehu.
Well, this is sort of like my ski lesson diary, after all, so naturally, there will be much embarrassing moments here…hehe… :”(
We took the Rocket Pass by the Ruapehu Snow School, the magic pass that promises progress “from beginner to competent skier in 3 days”. Well, for me, i wasn’t exactly “competent” after 3 days, but i would say probably more like “semi-competent”… Haha! Well, at least i was happy with my progress albeit being slow and clumsy, and despite having a long way more to go… hmm, at least i have gotten one person hopelessly addicted to the sport! 😉
Fitting the skis and selecting boots – For us clumsy creatures from a tropical climate Asian country who’s never skied before, just putting on the boots itself was a challenge! Next, walking like a duck, we went on to fit the skis – Every set of skis has to be manually fitted each time to match the size of the different type of boots worn by the skier. We have to do this process for 3 days. (Of course, it gets slightly quicker on the third day!) 😉
My favourite ski boots – I only found this perfect pair of ski boots on the third day, after being hurt on the first day and tortured again on the second! Poor me!
First day : Discover
This was the day when the most falling down happened, i went skiing off even before lesson starts, and ran straight into the sledding line! Stuck in the slope of the sledding line not being able to get up was the worse thing that could happen. Luckily i met a good Samaritan who pulled me up with one hand while pulling her little daughter and her sled with the other!
Only one word we learnt today : PIZZA! This is the magic word used by all instructors to teach the first and most vital lesson : How to stop. A slice of pizza is how the shape of your skis should look like when you stop.
Second day : Explorer
This is the day with the worst weather and worst vision. I could hardly see 10 metres in front of me! Heavy snowfall and we didn’t even have a shed as we’ve chosen to ascend via chairlift to another slope at Flat Hut. And the Rope…. Well you certainly need a strong grip for this. Ming fell a few times here. And myself? My cold, wet and frozen hands still in my completely ice-soaked gloves, have stopped cooperating with the ropes after 1 hour of repeatedly pulling it to elevate myself up the slope. And my shin is hurting like hades! Think I must have gotten some ligament injury from multiple falls and the pressure of the boots from the previous day, and the ill-fitting boots on the second day. I was limping most of the time, and the lesson today was “bending the knee”… Hmmm, i failed today’s lesson miserably! 🙁
Third day : Private Lesson
This was my best day of all three. I’ve got a good instructor today, Tom from Auckland, who finally got me turning… hahaha! Yes, it felt good to know how to make turns even in sharp corners instead of running smack into other happy skiers or boarders. Weather was average, but weather here could be pretty unpredictable. We didn’t even realize how heavy it was snowing, until we tried to find our packed lunch which we left on a café table 2 hours ago…. , and found only a mountain of snow there!! Yes, with some educated guess and after digging through the mountain of snow, we finally found our lunch, well buried beneath the pile of snow!! Haha! Luckily I’ve foil-wrapped it, so at least we didn’t have to bite into frozen bread!
Hmm… Maybe it’s coz I’m a beginner and I’ve never before ventured to other parts of the ski field before, but I didn’t realize ski slopes have so many types of lifts. Firstly for the beginners, there’s the Carpet at Happy Valley. This must be the easiest to use, though I’ve fallen down twice here while trying to align my skis onto the carpet! Then there’s the Rope at Flat Hut, much more difficult to use compared to the carpet.
Then, there’s also the common Chairlifts, they look simple but for a beginner it can be a real challenge to get on and off it! Just controlling your steps on the icy grounds while awaiting your turn at the queue was a challenge, aligning the skis when you board, and getting off before the non-stop chair pushes you into the ground, or worse, off the cliff…haha…. We’ve “cleverly” decided to take off our skis the first time we took this lift. Nevertheless, I still managed to fell down at least twice here, once almost been pushed down the steep cliff like Humpty- Dumpty!… It must be the most embarrassing moment… 🙁 I wasn’t sure which response was more appropriate – to laugh or to be scared.
At the higher slopes, either intermediate or advanced slopes, are where the T-Bars are used as lifts. I only saw these while hiking up through the mountain. This is the only type which i haven’t tried. It looks pretty easy from far, but i have no doubt i will have much embarrassing moments here again if i go for it! 😉 And the slopes are too steep and too long to risk falling off halfway! I would definitely be a safety hazard to other skiers! 😛
This was how we found our car after 5 hours of skiing – coated with snow.
After a long cold day on the ski fields, taking off our fully wet gears and drying them all in front of the fire was a cozy feeling. However, trying to start up our box fire was another challenge itself. Well, for us Humpty-Dumpties who have never started up a fireplace before in our lives, i would say we became pretty “competent fire-starters” after 5 days of staying here in this house! 😉
Oh, and there were also 3 cute goats who live behind the house : Peanut, Muffin & Lucy; who would actually respond and run to us as we call out their individual names! 😉