"Tow grippers or nutcrackers, as they are often known, were widely used in the 1940s. The rider wears a harness around the hips. To this is attached a clamp, much like the nutcracker from which it derives its name, which the rider attaches to the rope. This eliminates the need to hold on with the hands, reducing fatigue and allowing faster tows. The nutcracker device is essential on longer and steeper tows, as the rope runs over pulleys ino order to keep it off the ground.  Nutcrackers are still used at Meany lodge in Washington state, and Mount Greylock Ski Club in Massachusetts.
There are a few rope tows with nutcrackers running in Australia. They are now confined to isolated ski lodges, except for the Mount Mawson "club field" near Hobart in Tasmania which boasts four rope tows. In New Zealand nutcracker tows are very common, with them being at: Tukino, Maunganui, Rainbow, Mt Lyford, Hanmer Springs, Temple Basin, Broken River, Craigieburn, Fox Peak, Mt Olympus, Awakino and Invincible. 
To skiing purists in New Zealand, rope tows epitomize the rugged, 'back to basics' character of club skifields, and serve to keep these slopes free of the large crowds that more popular resorts receive. However, with a degree of determination and effort, once mastered, rope tows provide a unique skiing experience. They are reliable, can run in a variety of weather and snow conditions (including high winds), and can be maintained relatively cheaply (often by volunteers)."
"NUTCRACKER: New Zealand club fields are where it’s at"
NUTCRACKER: New Zealand club fields are where itâ€™s at
Nutcracker Rope Tow - a bit of history!
(both can usually be rented)