Treble Cone Ski Area: An Experience
The famous view of Lake Wanaka from the home lift on Treble Cone
Being a bit of a geek, I decided to learn as much as possible about skiing, and this place called Treble Cone. I figured this could minimize the number of embarrassing moments I'd have to endure. Hours were spent watching videos, reading blogs and talking to people that ski regularly. Unfortunately, reading about skiing, talking about skiing, and actually skiing are very different things.
Finally the day came. Before we even put our boots on it was an experience; the road that winds steeply up Treble Cone would frighten anyone not used to mountain roads, with its cliff drop-off and juddery gravel surface.
When we reached the carpark it was early in the morning, and I was finally surrounded by the longed-for snow, looking down at a breath-taking view of Lake Wanaka. As we walked closer to the lifts, carrying all of our equipment, I could hear the distant sound of skis plowing through the snow. The anticipation was building up. I was feeling nauseated. Everyone, whether they were skiers or snowboarders, looked like the most intrepid adventurer of all time. So even if I fell – and I would do that a lot – I would be doing so in style. At least this is what I told myself.
I started off on the Nice 'n' Easy platter: an almost-flat, 300 metre long run where all beginners start. Mostly it was occupied by three-year-olds dressed up as cotton balls, but there were a few adults my age or older. This made me feel a little better about myself, until I crossed my ski-tips for the eleventh time and once again fell over. My friendly instructor (aka my girlfriend) who has been skiing since she could walk decided that she was glad she couldn't remember what learning to ski felt like.
Despite the many falls, it only took a day to get the hang of moving with a pair of sticks attached to my feet. By day two I was up the actual chair lift (getting on and off a slightly scary experience in itself) and going down the long green run, now charmingly named Easiest Way Down (enigmatic, isn't it?). It's a long, long run, so if you decide you don't like it... unfortunately you've still got a way to go.
At the end of the second day, I was cruising – but mostly tumbling – down a blue run. When I looked back up, I felt the greatest sense of achievement. It was there and then that I began to understand the appeal of skiing. Up there, looking at amazing views, I had a sense of uninhibited freedom. I knew I would be coming back, again and again.
Now for a fun fact: Other than being a large and challenging area, Treble Cone is well known for its wild kea, who often join guests for lunch - and when I say join, I mean steal your food and poke their heads in your backpack. Just a few weeks ago I watched as one accidentally knocked a ceramic coffee cup off a table. It looked around, then knocked the saucer off too.
After that first trip to Treble Cone I was addicted. Sure, learning to ski at 30 must be harder than learning as a child - but it's also just as fun, and maybe even more of an adventure. Plus, as an adult you can enjoy a cold beer or a mulled wine afterwards, and that's certainly a bonus.
Photography by Mijail Linares