Verbier, CH - Apocalypse winter is upon us in the Alps. Pounding snowfall closed lifts today as the Avalanche Hazard hit 4, high, and parts of Verbier were evacuated in the anticipation of large and widespread slide activity. Sub -30 temperatures are forecast for the coming days and another massive pocket of moisture late next week. Hold on.
Santiago, Chile - Fresh off the road it’s been a big last few weeks - Panguipui, Neltume, Puerto Fue, Conaripe, Lican Ray, Los Laurales, Cunco, Manzanar, Malcalhuelo, Icalma, Melipueco, Freire, Rio Bueno, Puerto Octay, Ensenada, Puerto Varas. Phheew, lots of ripio and great turns, the adventure was a great one, Chile, now to me, is a much different place.
El Chalten, Santa Cruz, Argentina - After summitting Volcanos Lonquimay, Llama, and Villarica, and trying to get Casa Blanca I crossed the boarder into Argentina and headed Southward on a road trip that would take me camping in the Cerro Castillo area for a few days only to be chased out by a storm (a storm I may add that blew my ski mates sleeping bags and thermarests away after thrashing our tents), on a road tour off the pass there from Coyaihque which brought the first and maybe the last face shots of this season, a wild ride in the rented Kangoo Peuguet around Lago General Carrera which included a boat trip to the Capital Marmol, an island of marble balancing on eroded stilts. This then was followed by a snow goose chase up (beatufiul although a goose chase none the less) into the Jeimeni National Reserve on the boarder near Chile Chico. Southwards again we hit, literally, route 40 for two days, a cracked windsheld, a bent door (from the wind) and wonky rim were all just part and parcel of this excursion. Now in Chalten it’s been a week of epic day trips to glaciers and mountains with a few day camping trip thrown in, the names roll through my mind, Loma del Diablo, Vespagniti, Madson, Punta Velluda. Add a bit of sport climbing and top roping on routes like Comida Mexicana and Se que No and that brings us to a cross roads, to the south more, Usuiaha? or north to San Lorenzo and Cochran or both…only time will tell. One way or another it’s been an epic trip already. Oh I forgot to mention, gas shortages, black market gas shopping, armed gunman on wild patagonian passes and people falling in Bergshrunds, That about rounds it out.
Camilla shredding one of her first turns back in SA after a year hitatus on Volcan Villarica.
Santiago, Chile - Back in Latin America and happy to be here. I did have fun teaching skiing at TC (Treble Cone) for the last month full time and being a jacket chaser the month before, finally getting my CSIA Level 3. I’ve been planning a couple more volcano missions here, looking south towards Lonquimay and LLama first, then maybe down to Osorno and Casablanca. Hopefully will get out on the Campo del Hielo in the next month or two and have a number of other missions up my sleeve. Stay tuned.
Wanaka, New Zealand - Gary Wright penned the lyrics “…I believe we can reach the boarder line” for the song in 1976 and around the same time somebody must have thought it was a good name for a run up on the local ski hill here, Treble Cone. Sure there are other great runs, Gun Barrels and Far Out, Solitude and Magnum. However, after shredding this place for the last week and half I am still captivated by Dream Weaver, as Gary Wright wrote, “I have just closed my eyes, time to board the dream weaver train, trying to take away my worries of today and leave tomorrow behind” - skiing has and does do this for me. As Plake said, “I had to go skiing to make it all right again”, so do I.
Auckland, New Zealand - Made it to the North Island. Now waiting for a connection to Queenstown. Cool this morning here. Still winter.
Santiago de Chile, Chile - Well times up. I’m moving on. Not much snow here so the helicopter skiing won’t be happening for the moment anyhow. I have decided to take another shot at getting my Level 3 CSIA, this time with 4 weeks of intensive training beforehand. The program is based in Wanaka, NZ and I leave Sunday direct to Auckland with a connection to Queenstown. I hopefully will pick up some part time work during the course in the ski school and maybe a month of full time work after. Following that should be back here in the Southren Cone to chase a couple more volcanos and put together some expeditions through the fall.
The past couple weeks were good, riding out no snow then too much snow in Penitentes in the high andes, my second time being trapped up in the high pass, but it always results in some good skiing. Then doing 4047m Cerro La Parva (not Parva Falso) from Santiago in back in a day, 13hrs anyhow, always funny to be on the subway with your skis, was awesome - the turns were amazing up there in the thin air. Just looking forward now to a small volcanic pacific island chain and it’s apparently bumper season.
Neuquen, Argentina - Now far from the Andes but down at a good elevation for recuperation after sending the summit of the Copahue Volcano, 3001m, the day before yesterday and planning the next move on what is quickly shaping up to be a Volcano Tour. Though it would be nice to head North and stay in Argentina, skiing La Plata next, which is of course the next closest thing on the list, my intuition tells me, however, that there is no snow in Vallecitos and that it is more prudent, when the goal is to ski, to stay in the South.
As for Neuquen, the railway built this town. A line from BA once upon a time and a still functioning link to Bahia Blanca on the Atlantic coast brought people and goods. Now they survive here on there own, having grown to more than 350 000, the lights of the city glowing like a neon beehive in the dark, cold patagonia night, an oasis in a very large semi arid desert.
Caviahue, Argentina - Back in the spot, beautiful little village on the shores of a glistening lake surrounded be long ridges dotted with Aruacaria trees and over shadowed by the great dome of Volcan Copahue. Preparing for the walk up the mountain this afternoon and hoping the winds stay dead calm as they are now and the skies as clear as the crystal blue of the moment. It’s good to be here in a place that is so peaceful and magical.
The view down the lane from Hebe’s House.
Zapala, Argentina - A train once came here and there were big plans to have the tracks cross the Andes to Temuco via the ‘Roots’ tunnel, the longest in South America. But it never happened, though people still talk about it. The new gossip is that Brazil will build a big dam here, generating hydroelectric power from the waters of the Limay
River that has a confluence near the city of Neuquen. It’s off the grid for backbackers and skiers who are adventurous may pass through it’s bus terminal on their way to Caviahue or Bariloche, but it’s rare that anyone from outside Argentina actually stays here. Today the weather is cold, it’s like a Canadian winter and it’s snowing.