Ski Argentina

Argentina: A Skier’s Journey EP3 [Season 2] from Jordan Manley Photography on Vimeo.

I’m digging this Argentina ski/travel video by Jordan Manley; I recognize quite a few places and sights from our recent adventures in the Andes: the Santiago subway, the trucks along the highway at Penitentes, hot springs, roadside shrines, Fernet, asado, empanadas, volcanoes, and of course, wind!

The wintery snow scenes remind me of the winter I spent with mis amigos in Las Leñas, Argentina way back in 2002. Good times! See my photos from Las Leñas here.

Our Snowpack is Broken

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans, Colorado

As I mentioned in my last post, the avalanche conditions are extremely tender right now in the San Juans. Our snow pits revealed 2-3 feet of recent snow clinging precariously to 2-3 feet of rotten sugar snow – the worst winter avalanche ingredients possible. There is widespread “whoomphing” and shooting cracks. We took a conservative descent route, practiced our best safety protocol on the way down, and managed to stay out of trouble.

Avalanche crown, San Juans, Colorado

Here’s a picture of a slab avalanche in the gully on our way out (it had already slid naturally before we got there). In conditions this bad, any steep slope, not matter how short, has the potential to bury a person. We skied out of there on pins and needles, feeling that perhaps it’s not the time to be out in the backcountry at all, no matter how fluffy and tempting that powder is.

The snowpack is so fundamentally screwed that I can’t imagine the conditions improving anytime soon. It may be months before we can ride steeper lines again – maybe not until spring. The good news is that I’ll get a lot of work done this winter!

Sunny Ski

Skiing Red Mountain Pass, Colorado

Aimee getting some fresh tracks on her birthday on Wednesday. Earlier this week two feet of snow fell on top of an extremely thin and unstable snowpack, creating super sketchy avalanche conditions and numerous avy accidents across Colorado. So we’ve been sticking to the tamest routes of all, avoiding any avalanche terrain whatsoever. In any case, it feels great to get high in the San Juans again! Stay safe!

Volcán Villarrica

Volcán Villarrica, Pucón, Chile, November

Volcán Villarica : Prints Available

Volcán Villarrica, above Pucón, Chile - November. 

The last several days we’ve been in the town of Pucón, at the northern end of the Lakes District of Chile. The beautiful Mt-Fuji-esque Volcán Villarrica rises behind the town, which is situated on the shore of Lago Villarica. Although totally different geographically, Pucón reminds us of San Pedro de Atamaca, in that it’s super touristy, yet has a great relaxed vibe, lots of delicious food, and heaps of activities to do in the surrounding area.

I visited this town in the winter 10 years ago, and am shocked at how much it has changed and grown since then – I can hardly recognize anything about it. I vaguely remember back then one main strip with a few main dusty dirt roads branching off; now it’s a bustling tourist town with a complete network of paved roads, and probably ten times the size. But it still has a great atmosphere, perhaps better than ever.

Hiking Volcan Villarrica, Pucon, Chile

Of course once I saw the snow-smothered volcano, I knew that if we were going to climb it, I’d definitely have to snowboard down! So, I rented a board again and we figured out how to get up there without having to use guide services like most people are obligated to do (just a matter of showing our crampons and ice axes, along with a printed proof of membership in a mountain club – in my case an old email from the Colorado Mountain Club).

Continue reading “Volcán Villarrica”

Volcán Nevado

Vulcan Nevado, Chile

As you could probably guess from the photos in my last post, all the snow in the mountains around Las Trancas had me practically salivating, wishing for a snowboard. Well, on the way down from Valle de Aguas Calientes, we met some skiers and a splitboarder, who told me of a place in town where I could rent a splitboard! Well, I got the board that evening, and the next morning we woke up at the break of dawn and started the long walk to Volcán Nevado, a 3212m (10,538 ft.) glaciated volcano – the tallest one around here. Read more about our big day below! Continue reading “Volcán Nevado”

Potosi

Climbing up Potosi's couloir, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Yesterday morning Ann Driggers and I set off to hike and ski the big north couloir on Potosi Peak – one of the most aesthetic couloirs in the San Juans, and a line that has been high on my to-do list for many years. With an ample June snowpack, sunny weather, and freezing temps at night, this was a perfect opportunity to get it done! Here is Ann climbing up the steep couloir. Continue reading “Potosi”

Smoky Ski

Skiing in forest fire smoke - San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Went up for a little ski tour this morning above Ouray, and was surprised to find the mountains choked with forest fire smoke (on an otherwise blue sky day). A quick Google news search shows that a wildfire is raging in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, which must be where all the smoke blew in from.

Dog on summit

A rare indigenous San Juan alpine wolf.