So we waited for the snow to fall, patiently. With the conditions we saw opportunities to climb the volcanoes in the area without any concern over the snowpack as it was basically concrete on a hot summer day.
|Antuco and Sierra Velluda in the distance.|
|It was a little icy in July and required crampons...fun!|
|The summit of Volcan Viejo wasn't ride-able in July.|
|Eating lunch just below Volcan Nuevo|
The terrain in the backcountry feels like you are out really far away from civilzation. In truth though, you are. Where in Utah a typical hike takes maybe an hour and a half to 2 hours from the road, conversely here, you can plan on having 5 hour treks to reach the summits. The access takes more cardio here forcing you to work a little harder going up on top of rolling hills and down into valleys to go back up another rolling hill to reach your destination.
|Mark Beach is the little speck center frame.|
|Long, flat approaches lead to photoshoots out of boredom.|
|The Andies are, pretty big. (Photo by George Hargis)|
The sun stays out near the summits nearly all day, unless the wind is howling with cloud coverage. I rarely wear a facemask back in Utah but here, it can be necessary to wear to avoid wind damage to your face.
The options are limitless to what can be ridden making it possible to never see another person. There is tons of variety to the terrain here too; chutes, big open bowls, drops - whatever strikes your fancy unless it's tree riding. The tree riding is nearly nonexistant until you get down near lower elevations. I'm not sure exactly why it's the case, but my theory is because of the high winds that can commonly reach up to 50mph with 60mph gusts.
|I don't have a ruler so my Goal Zero Switch 8 was a marker.|
|Snow ain't the best yet, but you won't hear me complain about it in August.|
|View of Nevados de Chillan from mid-mountain.|
|View from Volcan Viejo|
|Mark Beach boosting over mini-mini-cornice to an endless, untouched powder field. Not a bad view, don't you think?|
|So close, yet so far. (Nevados de Chillan)|
|Photo by: George Hargis|
|Splitboards should not be on chairs! Laziness on a pow day.|
|Oh that's right, THIS is why I paid for a pass.|
Even with the high wind during the night before, we were shocked, the snow held up perfectly. We dug a snow pit to check conditions and after getting an ECT test of 28 (a propogation test) we felt pretty confident that everything would hold on that slope. Dropping those first lines onto that fin was a quick shot but was one of the more memorable runs I've had.
|It's not snowboarding until you climb a icy rock talus with your board on your back.|
|The rock we had to climb from another view. (Photo by Mark Beach)|
|mmmm that's good first line. Mark Beach riding the fin. (Photo by George Hargis)|
|Ellen getting her powder fix.|
|George taking the path most desired. So fresh and so clean all day long. (Photo by Mark Beach)|
|Wait...we have to skin 2 hours out of here. A realization that came much later.|
Exploring outside the resort has been the most fulfilling experiences to date. Hiking up to the tops of Volcans my eyes seem to wander around staring at the incredible scenery that are the Andes. It never ceases to take my breath away the way the mountains resemble an ocean of craggy peaks and deep valleys. When we first climbed to the top of Volcan Viejo we all just stared out silently into the distance and reality hit knowing that there would be serious commitment to hitting this terrain since we can't afford a helicopter to fly into these zones.
The Andes have been an incredible experience for me so far, and yet I still have another month left here. The Andes are vast, unexplored, and exponentially wider than your eyes can fathom. I can't believe I have had the opportunity to be here and I look forward to what the rest of this trip has in store!
Pray for snow!
|Mark, George, Ellen, Tom, and myself before dropping to end the day. A great day to spend with a great crew!|
|Chairs are down due to 50mph winds, guess we're hiking.|
|After storm mid-mountain restaurant.|
|Home with the alpen glow (pink) above the sun setting. Beautiful place to live, even for 6 people for that tiny cabin.|