Former Olympian and X Games champ Reggie Crist knows his way around soul patches and big mountains. He also knows his way around the Andes. When you’re on a skiing mission to South America, he’s the type of guy you want steering the ship, which is why a few young Wall Street suits from New York hired Reg to guide them through the isolated backcountry and gritty hangouts of his home-away-from-home: Argentina. From what we’ve heard, they left their mark on more than a few mountainsides and discotecas along the way. Yeah, we wish we could have been there too. Luckily, Reg keeps a detailed journal. Here’s a glimpse into the skiing and culture of South America, as told by Reggie Crist.
Exchanging flip-flops for ski boots can shock the psyche, but untracked powder during our summer months has lured me to South America once again, a unique place that has produced some of my most memorable ski adventures of the past couple decades. I started coming to South America in the late 1980s when my brother, Zach, and I were training downhill with the U.S. Ski Team. Since then we’ve made the trip almost every summer to explore the Andes and experience the culture.
Traveling south to ski usually requires a red-eye flight to Santiago, Chile. You can stay there and ski the various resorts within an hour or two of the city or hop over the Andes to Argentina. While the topography on either side of the border is similar, the cultures are vastly different. Zach accurately describes the differences: “If you decide to stay on the Chilean side, you’ll mingle with rationally minded people, and chances are you’ll have a relatively predictable and organized experience. A few too many pisco sours might leave you scrambling in the morning, but if you follow the condor into the mountains, you’ll cut a path to memorable adventures. If you choose to make the trip over to Argentina, you’ll be welcomed by an exotic culture of romantic people where Malbec flows like water, the lomo is lean like the women, and the snow lays down velvet fields of powder between dramatic granite spires."
We have found that snow conditions change every year, but we always take away valuable learning experiences. This place teaches some important lessons you can’t learn anywhere else. Read on...