Monday, 15th, August.
There has been a massive dump of snow. The last three days has seen a big storm around the mountain and Ohakune. My job for the last two days has been to crack the highnoon lift on my own. The high noon lift is the highest lift on Mt Ruapehu. the base of the noon is a large metal building with a control room, staff room, repair area and a big storage area for all the 5 seater chair lifts.
You can hear the snow pitter pattering outside. It’s the second night I have been up here now and I bought my lap top. Just watching films, turning on the lift every half an hour so it doesn’t freeze up. The company Doopellmay which is a european chair lift company which RAL bought the highhnoon off has a policy that the warranty will only be valid on the lift if there is someone in the drive 24 hours a day. If it breaks and no one is there then they don’t pay out.
There is a cctv camera pointed at me now with a link to switzerland. Watching that I do my job. My job of sitting here for 13 hours pushing a few buttons every half an hour. I am not complaining though. While I sit in here, warm, eating when I please watching what I please my fellow snow makers are outside battling the storm. They are in charge of digging out the guns, the plaza, the lifts, the buildings. Just about everything. visibility is so poor that you can barely see anything and the temperature has dropped to below -10.
Tonight is officially my last night as a snow maker but I don’t start as a lift operator untill friday so I have said that I would work on my days off in between. My thirst for money drowns out my tiredness. Now that I am almost out the other end I can review my time as a snow maker. My memory now becomes fonder. When I look back on my time in the dark I see myself on the slopes. I cannot imagine a job like this will pass my way for a long time and for that I am glad but I do see that I have been given a taste of a different life which few have experienced. ”its not a job its a life style” many of the old timers here keep saying. I agree, there is little or no time for anything else so this job does become your life.
I hope I can walk down the mountain again at night one last time but I don’t think it will happen. Do you really know when you will be doing something for the last time?, seeing someone for the last time? how do you know that this wont be the last time you have eggs?, the last time you will see your friend? the last day at work? Things can change so fast, seemingly fast compared to the long periods of apparent unchange in-between.
We move out of the BnB on Wednesday, we will pack our things tomorrow morning, clean the room and as soon as I am back from work on Wednesday morning, everything will go in the car, we will say goodbye to Gary and we will drive away. I have played it through my mind so many times, how it will happen, what I will say, how I will feel. I have thought all spontaneity out of the experience.
I now wait here watching films and writing. My lunch in a bag. I must be careful not to eat it all too early. Eating is the pass time for those who have nothing to do and I have very little to do at all.
I start to feel a bit mad up here after a while and when I finally emerge after 13 hours into the dawn, snow cats and day crew milling around busily I feel so out-of-place and grimy.
We went to Tomos house and made pizza the other night. Tomo is the Japanese girl who Sarah and I are going to move in with on Wednesday. She had a whole group of friends around. I noticed that I felt uncomfortable around so many people ( a whooping 10 or so people!) I have got so used to being alone or only with one other person, just walking and hitting ice that now I feel my social skills have deteriorated from disuse. No matter I am sure its only a matter of time before I change again.
Traveling demands that you are a chameleon, and changing colour is tiring but its a satisfying challenge. You can feel yourself being tested, new problems put in front of you, new rewards for overcoming them. Not always fun, but never boring.