You Have To Be A Certain Age To Have Used This.

Credit: John Emery

Thanks to reader John Emery, 65, from Meridian, ID, who skis as regularly as possible at Bogus Basin.  He sent in this memory from yesteryear.  Do you know what it was used for? By the way, John has been skiing since age 4 when he started back in Connecticut. There’s a bit of a nuanced hint in that last sentence.  Scroll down and write your guess in COMMENTS below.

If you have any “guess who/what this is”, let us know.  We are running these archival pictures in partnership with some outstanding ski museums sprinkled across the US and Canada.  However, if readers have a puzzler, we’ll consider it.

Last Week

Medals. Whose?

Yes, these are Bode Miller’s medals at the New England Ski Museum in Franconia, NH, at the base of the Cannon Mountain tram. Incidentally the new branch of the New England Ski Museum opens in North Conway this Saturday, Feb. 24, with a ribbon cutting.

These five medals represent Bode’s victories in the Olympics at Salt Lake City (2002) and Vancouver (2010).  Bode also won three other medals at the Olympics, presumably they are in a vault somewhere. (Source: Wikipedia)

  • Sochi 2014, bronze (super combined), bronze (super-G)
  • Vancouver 2010, gold (combined), silver (super-G), bronze (downhill),
  • Torino 2006, gold (giant slalom)
  • Salt Lake City 2002, silver (giant slalom, combined)

Bode can well be said to be the most successful American male Alpine ski racer of all time with eight Olympic and five World Cup medals over a 17 year career.

Despite his somewhat controversial start at NBC offering color commentary for the Alpine events at Pyeong Chang, we think Bode adds a level of expertise that is rare. He’s also into ski fashion and horse racing.  Interesting lifestyle for an ex-ski racer.


  1. Wayne Ferguson says:

    It’s a clamp for holding on to the rope-tow. I never used one as they seemed too dangerous and meant only to be used by . . . well, never mind.

  2. It is a rope tow grip. Place the grip over the rope, slowly clamp down. It saves gloves.

  3. Rope tow gripper

  4. It was one of a number of devices used to grip rope tows. We just used relatively inexpensive “Chopper’s mittens” easily available in Maine where we had plenty of loggers. The mittens were simply a leather and we used wool liner mittens inside. We have at least one of the other devices in the Ski Museum of Maine in Kingfield. I believe it’s one that attached to the ski pole.
    I never had one but I did wear out a few pair of Chopper’s Mittens.

  5. I know Wayne – only a weenie needed a clamp but I didn’t have an unlimited supply of leather mittens and being four feet tall on those rope tows was tough when there was a grown-up ahead of you or the rope had carved it’s way into a icy groove when I was the only rider on the tow. As far as dangerous….you have to have some courage just to enjoy “hurtling down a frozen mountain brains first” as my dad used to say.

  6. Ah, the memory of grabbing a sopping wet rope and having the moisture soak right through your mittens. I am trying to remember the last rope tow I used. Either the “practice hill” at Mad River or one of the several at Jimminy Peak.

  7. I recognized it immediately as a rope tow gripper. We used them at Mt. Baker to grip the rope tows on Austin or Blueberry.

  8. Many memories of using those contraptions from Wisconsin to Alaska. Mine was a little different design, came with a web belt, and worked on several sizes of rope.

  9. It is a tow rope clamp. The rope attached to a fabric belt. Used it growing up in Bradford, PA. Circa 40’s. Zippo ski slope. ( yes, named after the lighter. George Blaisdell, founder of Zippo provided the funding for the Zippo Ski Slope). I’m looking for a copy of Hannes Schnieder’s book on skiing circa 1940’s.

  10. Candy Walters says:

    It is a rope tow grip. I have one that belonged to my father. I believe they were later prohibited as they were deemed dangerous.

  11. Wes Schimmelpfennig says:

    Rope tow gripper we used at Soda Springs, Dodge Ridge, Squaw Valley and Laings on old highway 40

  12. Norm Reynolds says:

    I had a device shaped like a letter “C,” that was screwed to the shaft of my pole, and would grab the rope. Problem was “ungrabbing” the rope. Learned early on to take the wrist strap off!

  13. kay van hees says:

    Yup. Used it on Mt Spokane…maybe once. Didn’t work too well as I recall. No forgetting the soaked gloves and the dark stripes on the parka from the whizzing rope you were trying to grip and always that bit of panic at the top when you were suppose to let go and get out of the way. last one I used was in Europe about 20 years ago.

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