2017-2018 Far West Skier's Guide - 64-22
LEFT: The nutcracker rope tow assists snowsport enthusiasts ascend the slopes at Broken
River, New Zealand. RIGHT: The frightening
single chair "stool lift" in Furano, Japan is
an adventure in itself!
hill apparatus for a week or so! Nevertheless,
these rope tows are the linchpins of the ski
areas in Craigie Burn, Temple Basin, Mount
Olympus, Broken River, and Mt. Egmont,
among others. I also experienced such a rope
tow in Kashka-Suu, 30 kilometers outside
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on a visit some years
back, and I would guess that a few more such
torture instruments still exist in a number of
other locations around the world.
Close to Kashka-Suu are the equally obscure ski centers of Kizil-Beles and Oru-Suy.
We laughed until we almost cried at some of
the primitive lift arrangements. Some places
had a kind of rope tow, and when one paid the
daily fare ($2-5), instead of a lift ticket, one received a 10-inch stick attached to a nylon cord
with a hook at the end. The stick was to be
placed between one's legs, the hook was meant
to hang over the wire cable of the lift, and
with a lot of practice, one can learn how to
reach the top without the hook falling off.
Even more amusing than the rope tow was
the Russian built draglift in Oru-Suy. The disc
that one placed between one's legs was somewhat larger than that of a French Poma lift,
and the springs were a bit older. Otherwise,
the contraption seemed quite like the Western
product . . . until one's skis left the ground! All
of a sudden, the skier was dangling three or
four meters in the air, as if he were riding on
some strange Asian amusement-park attraction. For added fun and adventure, it was
even possible to swing around and face downhill while riding up this bizarre lift.
Japan has the most chair lifts of any
country in the world. Being a very modern
country, many of these lifts are state of the art,
The infamous Roca Jack lift in Portillo, Chile. The "Va et Vient" is a strange invention which has
five Poma lifts all connected together - without any lift towers.
64 - 22 Far West Skier's Guide 2O17 - 2O18 / Digital Edition Insert