Most of my coworkers ride mountain bikes in the off-season. But not me. I get ready for ski season by whitewater paddling. My latest toy? A Jackson 4Fun.
Most of my coworkers ride mountain bikes in the off-season. I meant to be a mountain biker, too, but I knocked up my wife five and a half years ago, before I had a chance to invest in a good bike. So I stick to a sport I got into as a kid, and for which I maintain a working arsenal of equipment: whitewater kayaking. My latest toy is a Jackson 4Fun from Confluence Kayaks in Denver (a store that also has a great backcountry-oriented ski shop during winter, but we’ll talk about that another time).
A South American cell phone company wants to film a commercial with big-mountain skiers. They'll pay for heli and sled skiing in Caviahue, on the border of Chile and Argentina. So who do they call? Our blogger, Griffin Post.
“Brrraaaaapppp,” goes the 900 Polaris RMK as we tear across the frozen lake in a volcanic crater. I watch with amusement as little pieces of white shrapnel eject from beneath the sled, harmlessly hitting the rider I am shuttling to the top of a 3,000-foot face on the Argentina-Chile border. It is September and through some random connections, I am snowmobile skiing. It is the first day of a multi-day commercial shoot for a large South American cell phone carrier.
So what if you're alone and the big lines aren't good this late in the season? Brigid Mander has been warned, but she still heads to La Hoya, Argentina, to ski blower pow with a couple of ski patrollers.
“Don’t go.” My friend Doug, a South American ski guide and Silverton Mountain, Colorado’s snow safety director, is staring at me, alarmed. I have just cheerfully informed him of my plan to visit Esquel and ski La Hoya, late season. He wants me to know that most lines I would want to ski there haven’t been filled in during this mild Andean winter. The bottom third is all downclimbing, he tells me.
Final Results of the South American Freeskiing Championships.
The first stop of the 2010 Subaru Freeskiing World Tour took place last week at La Parva, Chile. Read what competitor Griffin Post (who placed fifth) had to say about the new venue, McConkey's, here. There was almost a foot of fresh snow and competitors from as far away as France, Canada, Switzerland, and the U.S. competing for the title of South American Freeskiing Champion and a $10,000 prize.
On trips to South America, things can go from bad (stuck on the side of a dusty road) to good (drinking post-powder cerveza with friends) very, very quickly. Brigid Mander reports from Argentina.
The best way to catch a ride in Argentina? Sit in the dust on the side of Ruta 7, the international road from Mendoza, Argentina, to Santiago, Chile, on bags of ski gear and look forlorn. You will have, in my experience, in the first half-hour, a total of seven rides offered, in both directions, by the extremely friendly trucking community in the area.
Griffin Post goes cat-skiing in Chile with The North Face crew. Which is all good. Until you realize they think it's your birthday. And it's not.
"We would like to make invitation to make cat-skiing on Thursday," says Trinidad, director of marketing for The North Face Chile. While there were a few words missing from her statement, I got the gist of it and the answer was pretty simple, although I tried to act like I was busy and could possibly have more important things to do. "Um, yeah, I could probably do that, I'll just have to touch base with some other people and make sure it's alright," I reply, half lying. And just like that I am off to Arpa—the only cat-skiing operation in South America—to ski some un-tracked.
In this isolated little ski area in Argentina, there is this choice: Join the South Americans at the disco and sleep all day, or go to bed early and get after the powder stashes yourself. By Brigid Mander. Photo by Aaron Dahill.
Sleepily stepping out the hotel door into darkness at 5:40 A.M., I run smack into a group of drunken Argentines. I knew what was coming…after all, this is Valle de Las Leñas, Argentina.
The Argentines were doing, in their eyes, what one should be doing at that hour. in Las Leñas—heading home from the disco. I was the weird one, with my ski gear and a loaded pack. I did my best to explain that to climb and ski a big mountain, you had to start early. It was obvious this made no dent in their horror, so I gave up, smiled, and waved a pole in farewell.
A fantasy fulfilled: Griffin Post drops bombs in La Parva, Chile.
Every skier has his or her own ski-related fantasy. For some it's skiing first descents in AK, for others it's a bluebird spring day with his family, for me, it's always been one thing: blowing up some cornices with large quantities of explosives. Last week, this fantasy came to fruition when the La Parva Snow Safety Crew offered to take me on their dawn patrol control route after a meter-plus dump.
Here's how to ensure a big storm in Chile: Have a large party the night party. Griffin Post reports from south of the border.
Over the past two weeks I think I've single handily doubled the amounts of hits that snow-forecast.com usually receives. I’ve been looking for that ray of hope, that excitement that a “heavy snow” prediction can create. After two weeks in South America I finally saw that ray—a storm that was poised to dump upwards of one meter of snow on La Parva, Chile. A number of different pre-storm rituals were discussed between the Americans, French, and Chileans in our group.