Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Life on an active volcano

Mt. Ruapehu is one of only a handful of active volcanoes that have a ski field built upon it. All around the mountain there are signs warning of possible eruptions and telling you to go to higher ground. I learned that a lahar is a volcanic mud flow and will usually follow one of three paths on the mountain. Unless there is a complete eruption, then were in trouble. Death trouble. A big bonus of working on a volcano is that you can hike to the summit in just under an hour from one of the T-bars. Then you ride down. People also come here in the summer and walk up the trail. Here are some pictures from the crater:

The coolest job on the mountain is by far ski patrol. They are the best skiers, can save your life and can basically do anything. Next time I have a life problem I'm just going to call them up and they will sort me out. Somewhere down the line is being a lifty. We essentially help people get on and off lifts, make sure ramps are all good and help customers with anything they might need. I wouldn't say it is a hard job. It can be boring standing at a lift all day telling customer's the same thing a hundred times but if the weather is nice, the day can fly by. The best thing about being a lifty is riding on your days off and riding when you get breaks at work. Going for a one hour snowboard on your lunch break makes everything else worth it. Random mountain closed days due to poor visibility, no snow or high winds are also a welcome surprise. Living in a National Park does limit the amount of fun things you can do if the mountain is closed so there is definitely a pretty massive drinking culture. Not uncommon for people to start drinking beers shortly after breakfast.

Other jobs on the mountain are ticket checking, rentals, food and beverage, road crew, drivers, snow makers, trail groomers, customer service, maintenance and HR people.The drama level has been pretty low this year but so has the snow. Apparently it is one of the worst seasons for snow in the last twenty years. In the last 18 days, I think I've worked one full day. On the plus side, you get paid a minimum set of hours so that at least covers my rent. And the place I'm staying at I get free hot chocolate and that is priceless really. A trend I've noticed is people get addicted to the snow. After this they either go to Japan, America, Europe or Canada to get their fix. I can see how it can become addicting. The people are laid back, you get to travel and ride whenever you get the chance. Downsides are lack of pay and limited career mobility.

One of the other lifties here made a video with his GoPro that does a much better job of showing what my life is like here.Thanks for reading and will have more posts coming up in the next few weeks because I will actually be travelling instead of working like a commoner.Very excited. Enjoy your day!

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant."

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