Monday, July 29, 2013

Spring before winter!

We got a bit tired of waiting for some great snow, so we left Pucon to see if we would be able to find anything good snow further south.

We headed to Osorno where there is a small resort on Volcano of the same name.
The map of the area we had wasn’t quite precise. We ask a bit around and we were eventually directed towards what should be the resort.

I started to doubt as we were going up a small dirt road with a slight cover of snow.

To make a long story short, we eventually figured out once we got at the end of the road that resort wasn’t on the north side of the resort (where we were) but on the south side. To make it there, there was a bit more than 3 hours of driving involve….
The worst part is that there wasn’t even enough snow to go out for some turns. Instead of skiing and check out this small resort, we spend the day hiking around the volcano and enjoying the view.
We were both a bit bummed about the non-ski day, but that was certainly quite a great day out.

A bit pissed about that mis-orientation, we left the area without going checking the resort and headed to Antillanca.

That resort certainly showed the signs of a bad snow year so far.  
The cover at the bottom of the slope was really thin. It seems that they were kind of grooming the rocks with the snow!
We skinned up the resort figuring out we could climb the volcano Casablanca. Which is behind the resort.  As we got close to the top, we found out that it was fairly icy. Actually, the slopes were really shinny and we could barely stand. We gave up the idea of summiting the Casablanca volcano..
From the top of the ski resort Antillanca, we had a terrific view of the surrounding volcanoes. We made one lap down the groom run the view was certainly better than the turns.
As we kept moving and headed towards Argentina we found out we weren't the only one having problem with the ice!
First stop was in Villa La Angostura to check out Cerro Bayo.
The bottom of the resort had the worst snow covering: grass!!
We bootpacked up from the bottom until we were able to put the skins on.  We headed towards the freesking area.  We eventually found out that the snow was better up there. 
After a quite miserable start, we both had to agree that it was probably our best day so far! We for the first time some nice cold snow to make turns on!
After that great day of skiing, we heard from Vincent, a friend of mine from Quebec, saying he had quite a good spring skiing day in Chapelco. We made it a no brainer to drive the 3 hours to catch with him.
We caught up with them and drove to Chapelco where we skinned up the resort and went straight to the backcountry.The scenery was certainly quite nice, but the snow was a mix of powder, dead cookies and hard spot.
The north slope had seen much more sun and were quite soft.
As bad as the south side was for skiing, the north side was everything you would expect from spring skiing.
All and all, that was quite a great day of skiing!

So good that we went back for some resort skiing the following day.

Vince and Manu had quite a night out and they woke up just 20 minutes before their checkout. We spend the day out chilling and enjoying the lifts to another great day of skiing!
We drove straight to Bariloche.
We were pretty excited to check out Cerro Catedral, the resort next from Bariloche, but we woke up to some cold and cloudy day.

We figured it would be a great day to start with some eggs and wine.

We drove around town, did some laundry and catch up some undone geeking from the past days.

After wandering around for the day, we caught up with Vince and Manu to check the sunset over the lakes surrounding Bariloche.
We got stuck at the Blest, the local microbrewery, that were offering a 50% on the beer from 6PM to 8PM. After our second 2.5liters of beer, we made the plan for the next say to drive south to check out Perito Moreno near El Bolson.
From the maps, it looks like there was a nice backcountry area above the resort.
We got there and found the driest resort we have witnessed so far! There wasn’t even a trace of snow at the bottom! We caught the chairlift to save some hiking above the resort.
We quickly found out the area above the resort is dead flat and certainly doesn’t worth to make it up there if you are looking for turns. We hiked around and made it up for the view, but one shouldn’t go there for the turns.
Actually, I think the town of El Bolson worth more stopping by than the resort. With it small hippy market around the central plaza, it has a much better vibe than Bariloche.

After a homemade sandwich, we kept driving south towards Esquel and its local resort: La Hoya. We drove under a great night full of stars and stopped about 30km before making it to town to chill and drink a bit of wine.
Another bluebird day was waiting for us the following morning.

The good news was the resort had snow all the way at the bottom! This was only the 2nd resort (after Chapelco), that we found snow all the way down to the base! The snow condition wasn't too promising though!
The resort was actually fairly covered! We even got the word that it this resort was pretty often offering less snow due the high wind.

We hiked a bit around and check out different aspect until we found the nice north facing slope that was getting warmed up by the sun!
We lapped that face almost all day enjoying the nice soft turns in that steady spring snow! I thought I was making a trip in South America to get some more winter, but instead, we were having spring day after spring day!
We didn’t chilled out too much in the parking lot since about 4 hours of driving were waiting for us to get back to Bariloche to catch up with Babiche who just made it to Argentina.

The plans for the coming days are to check out a bit more the skiing potential of Bariloche!


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