Two weeks in a beaten up Van, well over twenty hours in the air, hopping about on cheap red-eye connections, 20 bottles of vino, & almost 30hours on a coach, just to achieve one goal. The hunt for South American champagne powder! Admittedly, the Argentinian bus system is one of the most comfortable bus rides available anywhere on earth, but the figures needed to chase your dreams can be- in hindsight- astounding. This tally has nothing to do with our endless search- before this particular adventure- for the best powder on earth, that has taken us, as a duo, to Japan, Canada, the USA, New Zealand and last and definitely least… Australia.
My girlfriend and myself had decided long before the 09-10 North American winter that we needed to voyage- at any cost- down to South America to continue our winter chasing tally,which would officially stand at four consecutive bounces across the equator, and had settled on a five winter goal before we would spend an entire summer in one locality. Five winters would be counted after we arrived back in the rockies from Argentina, and yet another season of doing whatever it takes to get as many full days off as possible together, to ride as much as our- “increasingly mature”- twenty something bodies would let us get away with.
We settled on one of the cheapest resorts Argentina had to offer, because pure and simply, we needed the cheapest resort in Argentina, if we wanted to ride the season on our ‘modest’ budget. After finally making our way through Peru, which granted us a fantastic week in the desert in an oasis paradise, where we found snowboards, and slid down insanely high looming sandy mountains. The image above was taken when a four legged friend made his way up the slope to see why all the tourists thought this would be a good idea… Fast forward to our arrival to the small mountain town of Esquel, deep inside the Patagonian countryside, Argentina.
After our extended bee-line journey to Patagonia, we finally arrive in our new found home, Esquel, closest town to the La Hoya ski resort. Another important reason we chose this resort, was the lack of information available on the internet. We wanted to get off the tourist trail as much as possible, as we felt, this would be the way to best get off the beaten path… or piste as our chosen activity would suggest. The long and short of it was that our hunt for South American powder churned out 4 days at best of actual powder days. Every 10 or so days, we would hear word from our neighbours next door (Planeta hostel in Esquel- fantastic owners, highly recommended them for those who make it down Patagonia way), that Bariloche, only 4 hours north but 10 times the price for a season pass, would be puking flakes. I now state that absolutely nothing would be happening on the ski hill at La Hoya. Apparently as the way it can happen with mother natures sports, we just happened to nominate a bad season. The locals attempted to comfort us by telling us, as best they could in broken English, that if its snowing in Bariloche, then its also dumping up at La Hoya. Every time, we would hear this, we knew we just couldn’t afford the costs to shred Bariloche.
As we didn’t want to leave, just in case the next big dump was right around the corner- also if I’m being honest, there is some of the best meat available anywhere in the world for peanut, we would wait one more day, then one more week, until we knew we could wait until the end of the season, but the time to leave was upon us. With our money dwindling day by day, we left for a week in Bariloche to put our funds to good use, and trying to forge fond memories in a country that seemed snowless.
Hallelujah! We had found a mountain with enough stashes to push ourselves to our limits before heading northward across the equator in one more week. Unfortunately our time at La Hoya only honed our skills are riding ice sheets, at times it would have been easier if we bought ice skates for the ski runs. Learning to ride ice is a valued skill, but one that does not need to be practiced every day, for months on end.
So with countless kilometres under our belts, two ski hills, and mixed emotions, we knew our time spent in South America would burn its imprint firmly into our consciousness. Now on to Canada, Toronto, then on to more white winters. Inevitably, the search for the perfect white stationary-wave MUST continue…